Ravesloot MJL, Benoist L, van Maanen P, de Vries N.
If untreated, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) develops as a gradual progressive disease. In the early stage of the disease most patients with OSA are positional. The archetypical patient might progress from simple positional snoring via positional early-stage mild disease to less positional moderate and finally nonpositional severe OSA. At first, the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is high only in the supine position, and later is high in all sleeping positions. The phenomenon is reversible.
After partial effective treatment, patients with severe OSA can reverse to less severe positional OSA or, in other words, the AHI drops more in the lateral position than in supine position. This has been shown for palatal surgery, multilevel surgery, bimaxillary osteotomies, and bariatric surgery. The absence or presence of positional dependency has a great influence on sleep surgery. First, the results of sleep surgery might be worse in positional patients. Second, the addition of positionaltherapy to sleep surgery might improve the overall outcome and, as such, enhance the indication of sleep surgery as an alternative to continuous positive airway pressure and mandibular advancement device treatment.