July 1987

Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults With Tonsillar Hypertrophy

Author Affiliations

From the Pulmonary Disease Service, Department of Medicine, and the Department of Clinical Investigation, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC (Drs Moser and Rajagopal) and the Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md (Dr Rajagopal).

Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(7):1265-1267. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370070079012

• Tonsillar enlargement is a more common cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the pediatric population than it is in adults. The small number of reported cases suggests that tonsillectomy for adult patients with this association may be as successful as it is known to be for children. We compared polysomnographic findings and/or symptomatology both before and after tonsillectomy in six patients aged 22 to 52 years, who had adenotonsillar hypertrophy and OSA. Tonsillectomy provided lasting relief of OSA in four patients. We review the literature for available polygraphic data from similar patients before and after tonsillectomy. Our combined experience indicates that many adults with OSA can clearly benefit from removal of hypertrophied tonsils. Such success may, for some adults, be transient or may not occur. This should be considered during initial patient counseling and when planning postoperative follow-up.

(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1265-1267)