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Surgery Relieves Some Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Relieving compression caused by brain malformation reduces sleep disruptions, but not daytime sleepiness

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Surgery to relieve compression on the brain stem caused by Arnold-Chiari malformation (ACM) can relieve some associated symptoms of sleep apnea, according to a study in the Jan. 10 issue of Neurology.

Frederic Gagnadoux, M.D., of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Angers, France, and colleagues studied 16 subjects with ACM type I, and a related condition called syringomyelia. The research team identified sleep apnea in 12 subjects, half of whom had central sleep apnea. Decompression surgery was performed on eight subjects with sleep apnea.

The researchers found that surgery decreased the number of central sleep apnea occurrences by more than 90%, from an average of 15 episodes per hour of sleep to an average of one episode. They also found that the number of micro-arousals, or partial awakenings from sleep, decreased by 30%. But they observed no significant change in average scores on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale before or after surgery (9.7 and 10.7, respectively).

"The lack of improvement in sleepiness was explained by the persistence of a severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in two patients who were subsequently treated by continuous positive airway pressure," the authors write. "In one patient whose apnea-hypopnea index was normalized after surgery, sleepiness worsening was related to a depressive syndrome."

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