It has been suggested that deposition of fat in the soft tissues surrounding the upper airway may be an important factor in the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in obese subjects. We have used magnetic resonance imaging to determine the site(s) and size(s) of fat deposits around the upper airway in six obese patients with OSA (116-153% of ideal body weight) and five weight-matched controls without OSA (107-152% of ideal body weight). In all subjects, large deposits of fat were present postero-lateral to the oropharyngeal airspace at the level of the soft palate. Significantly more fat was present in these regions in the patients with OSA (p = 0.03). Fat deposits in the soft palate were observed in 4 of the 6 patients with OSA but none of the controls. Fatty streaks were observed in the tongue in 2 of the 5 controls and 3 of the 6 patients with OSA. Fat deposits were observed anterior to the laryngopharyngeal airspace, in submental regions, in all obese subjects. This study shows that more fat is present in those areas surrounding the collapsable segment of the pharynx in patients with OSA, compared to equally obese control subjects without OSA.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||European Respiratory Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 1989|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine