LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Some obstructive sleep apnea patients who can't tolerate CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, are better off having surgery to keep their airways open, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found in a recent study.
CPAP treatment uses low air pressure to keep airways open during sleep. Patients for whom this is ineffective can be recommended for maxillomandibular advancement, which enlarges the upper airways by surgically moving the upper and lower jaws slightly forward.
UCLA researchers conducted a study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, analyzing previous MMA surgeries in order to find a method of determining patients most fit for the procedure.
Using data from 45 studies that included 518 patients, they found 74 percent of patients had undergone prior surgery for obstructive sleep apnea. Overall, 512 of the 518 patients experienced an improvement after surgery, with the average apnea-hypopnea index score decreasing by 80 percent and respiratory disturbance index score decreasing by 65 percent.
The researchers found patients with less severe measures of obstructive sleep apnea saw a smaller change in scores, and those with more severe symptoms were seen to benefit from surgery more than others, according to a press release.
"Maxillomandibular advancement is a highly effective treatment for OSA," the researchers wrote in the study. "Those patients with the most severe measures of OSA tend to benefit to the greatest degree."