Management plan to reduce risks in perioperative care of patients with presumed obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Bhargavi Gali, Francis X. Whalen, Peter C. Gay, Eric J. Olson, Darrell R. Schroeder, David J. Plevak, Timothy I. Morgenthaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with increased perioperative morbidity and mortality. We initiated a protocol designed to screen patients preoperatively and monitor them postoperatively. The goal was to identify patients who were at risk for oxygen desaturation after discharge from the postanesthesia recovery room (PACU). Methods: Patients without previously diagnosed OSA presenting to the preoperative evaluation clinic were assessed over a 10.5-month period using a validated prediction rule to identify patients thought to be at high risk of OSA (sleep apnea clinical score, SACS ≥ 15). Following surgery, patients were monitored in the PACU for significant respiratory events: apnea, increased FiO2 requirement, pain-sedation mismatch, or episodes of desaturation. Patients were placed in 3 groups based on their SACS and the presence or absence of recurrent PACU respiratory events (group 1: SACS < 15, no recurrent events; group 2: SACS ≥15, no recurrent events; and group 3: SACS ≥ 15, recurrent events.) The number of oxygen desaturations ≥ 4% per hour, the oxygen desaturation index (ODI), was calculated for each patient for 24 to 48 hours after PACU discharge. An ODI > 10 was the threshold chosen to indicate a high frequency of oxygen desaturation. Results: The percentage of patients with ODI > 10 differed significantly across the 3 study groups (12%, 37%, and 57%, for groups 1-3, p = 0.005). Mean ODI in group 1 was significantly different from groups 2 and 3 (5.8 compared to 10.0 group 2 and 11.4 group 3 with p = 0.001). Conclusions: We have shown that combining preoperative screening is useful for identifying patients at risk for oxygen desaturation after PACU discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-588
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 15 2007


  • Hypoventilation
  • Obstructive
  • Oximetry
  • Postoperative complications
  • Preoperative evaluation
  • Recovery room
  • Sedation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep-disordered breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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