Although significant complications can result after upper airway surgery for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there is a lack of consensus regarding the most appropriate level of monitoring in the perioperative period. A retrospective analysis was performed on the operative records of 109 adult patients who underwent 125 surgical procedures from January 1, 1991, to May 31, 1996, with particular emphasis on complications that would have mandated intensive care monitoring and management. Airway complications occurred in one patient (0.8%), who became obstructed immediately after surgery; he responded to naloxone and suctioning. Five other patients (4%) suffered oxygen desaturation to levels below 90% (none fell below 80%, and in only one case was it below the lowest preoperative oxygen saturation level). Cardiac complications, primarily significant hypertension, were the most common adverse events. Four (3.2%) bleeding complications were encountered; all occurred after discharge from the hospital. Routine postoperative intensive care monitoring for all adult patients undergoing upper airway surgery for OSA is unnecessary. Although high-risk patients cannot always be identified preoperatively, significant complications generally emerge within 2 hours after surgery. Therefore a decision regarding the level of postoperative monitoring needed may be made with confidence during the period of time that the patient is in the recovery room.
ASJC Scopus subject areas