Unrecognized obstructive sleep apnea in surgery: we can’t afford to sleep on it any longer

Aaron Oh, Sutapa Mukherjee, R. Doug McEvoy


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by cyclical upper airway collapse, hypoxia, arousal from sleep, and is associated with sympathetic discharge, endothelial dysfunction, and hypercoagulability (1). Severe, untreated OSA is associated with adverse cardiovascular (CV) events, and is under-diagnosed in the community (2). The prevalence of OSA in surgical populations is high, and current anesthetic guidelines recommend preoperative screening for OSA (3). In the postoperative period, the combined effects of anesthesia, sedation and analgesia conspire to exacerbate pre-existing OSA.