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Indian J Dent Res. 2011 Nov-Dec;22(6):739-48. doi: 10.4103/0970-9290.94566.

Evaluation of craniofacial morphology in patients with obstructive sleep apnea using lateral cephalometry and dynamic MRI.

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Department of Orthodontics, Ragas Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai, India.



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially life-threatening disorder, characterized by repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep with cessation of breathing. The altered mouth breathing produces morphological changes in craniofacial region.


This study was designed to compare and validate the craniofacial morphological characteristics in patients with OSA using lateral cephalometry and to investigate the dentofacial characteristics of patients with OSA with respect to the obstructive sites determined by dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to more accurately clarify the pathophysiological features.


10 patients with OSA were divided into two groups of five each according to their obstructive site determined by dynamic MRI. (1) Obstruction at the retropalatal and retroglossal region (Rp + Rg group) and (2) obstruction at the retropalatal region (Rp group). Lateral cephalogram both in upright and supine position was taken for all the subjects. In addition, dynamic MRI was performed to identify the sites of obstruction of the upper airway.


Independent t-test was performed to evaluate the significant difference in the upright cephalometric variables between the study and control group and between the two groups. The changes in skeletal and soft tissue parameters with change in posture was assessed within the study and control group by paired t test. P value of ≤ 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.


The study indicated that the first group of patients with both retropalatal and retroglossal obstruction showed signs of skeletal discrepancy that predisposed to obstruction at the retroglossal level and the soft tissue components like the soft palate and tongue that contributed to retropalatal obstruction. However, the second group of patients with only retropalatal obstruction had primarily soft tissue components associated with increased BMI that contributed to retropalatal obstruction.


Evaluation of craniofacial morphology in OSA patients is bound to help the concerned specialist in recognizing the morphological changes induced by altered sleep pattern so as to provide the appropriate treatment.

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