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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2013 Apr;28(4):937-44. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfs473. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Relationship of pharyngeal water content and jugular volume with severity of obstructive sleep apnea in renal failure.

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Sleep Research Laboratory of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



In patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), fluid overload may contribute to their high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by increasing the amount of fluid displaced from the legs into the neck overnight, and possibly compressing the upper airway (UA). Indeed, in ESRD patients, the amount of overnight rostral fluid displacement from the legs is related to the frequency of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep (apnea-hypopnea index, AHI). We, therefore, hypothesized that in ESRD patients, the greater the UA-mucosal water content (UA-MWC) and internal jugular vein volume (IJVVol), the higher the AHI.


We studied 20 patients with ESRD on thrice weekly hemodialysis who had undergone diagnostic polysomnography (age 41.0 ± 12.3 years, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25.8 ± 6.3 kg/m(2) and an AHI of 20.2 ± 26.8). The leg fluid volume (LFV) was measured by bioelectric impedance. The IJVVol and MWC were measured by UA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


The only significant independent correlates of the AHI were IJVVol (r = 0.801, P < 0.0001) and UA-MWC (r = 0.720, P = 0.0005) which together explained 72% of its variability.


These data suggest that fluid overload via increased IJVVol, and UA-MWC, contributes to the pathogenesis of OSA in patients with ESRD. These findings help us to explain the high prevalence of OSA in ESRD patients, and attenuation of OSA in association with nocturnal dialysis. They also suggest the need for randomized trials to determine whether more aggressive fluid removal in ESRD patients will alleviate OSA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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