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ItemMagnetic resonance imaging of the upper airway in patients with quadriplegia and obstructive sleep apneaO'donoghue, FJ ; Meaklim, H ; Bilston, L ; Hatt, A ; Connelly, A ; Jackson, G ; Farquharson, S ; Sutherland, K ; Cistulli, PA ; Brown, DJ ; Berlowitz, DJ (WILEY, 2018-08-01)The aim of this study was to investigate upper airway anatomy in quadriplegics with obstructive sleep apnea. Fifty subjects were recruited from three hospitals in Australia: people with quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury and obstructive sleep apnea (n = 11), able-bodied people with obstructive sleep apnea (n = 18), and healthy, able-bodied controls (n = 19). All underwent 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging of their upper airway. A subgroup (n = 34) received a topical vasoconstrictor, phenylephrine and post-phenylephrine magnetic resonance imaging. Mixed-model analysis indicated no significant differences in total airway lumen volume between the three groups (P = 0.086). Spinal cord injury-obstructive sleep apnea subjects had a significantly larger volume of soft palate (P = 0.020) and retroglossal lateral pharyngeal walls (P = 0.043) than able-bodied controls. Able-bodied-obstructive sleep apnea subjects had a smaller mandible volume than spinal cord injury-obstructive sleep apnea subjects and able-bodied control subjects (P = 0.036). No differences were seen in airway length between groups when controlling for height (P = 0.055). There was a marginal increase in velopharyngeal volume across groups post-phenylephrine (P = 0.050), and post hoc testing indicated the difference was confined to the able-bodied-obstructive sleep apnea group (P < 0.001). No other upper airway structures showed significant changes with phenylephrine administration. In conclusion, people with obstructive sleep apnea and quadriplegia do not have a structurally smaller airway than able-bodied subjects. They did, however, have greater volumes of soft palate and lateral pharyngeal walls, possibly due to greater neck fat deposition. The acute response to upper airway topical vasoconstriction was not enhanced in those with obstructive sleep apnea and quadriplegia. Changes in upper airway anatomy likely contribute to the high incidence in obstructive sleep apnea in quadriplegic subjects.
ItemGenioglossus reflex responses to negative upper airway pressure are altered in people with tetraplegia and obstructive sleep apnoeaWijesuriya, NS ; Gainche, L ; Jordan, AS ; Berlowitz, DJ ; LeGuen, M ; Rochford, PD ; O'Donoghue, FJ ; Ruehland, WR ; Carberry, JC ; Butler, JE ; Eckert, DJ (WILEY, 2018-07-15)KEY POINTS: Protective reflexes in the throat area (upper airway) are crucial for breathing. Impairment of these reflexes can cause breathing problems during sleep such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). OSA is very common in people with spinal cord injury for unknown reasons. This study shows major changes in protective reflexes that serve to keep the upper airway open in response to suction pressures in people with tetraplegia and OSA. These results help us understand why OSA is so common in people with tetraplegia and provide new insight into how protective upper airway reflexes work more broadly. ABSTRACT: More than 60% of people with tetraplegia have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). However, the specific causes are unknown. Genioglossus, the largest upper-airway dilator muscle, is important in maintaining upper-airway patency. Impaired genioglossus muscle function following spinal cord injury may contribute to OSA. This study aimed to determine if genioglossus reflex responses to negative upper-airway pressure are altered in people with OSA and tetraplegia compared to non-neurologically impaired able-bodied individuals with OSA. Genioglossus reflex responses measured via intramuscular electrodes to ∼60 brief (250 ms) pulses of negative upper-airway pressure (∼-15 cmH2 O at the mask) were compared between 13 participants (2 females) with tetraplegia plus OSA and 9 able-bodied controls (2 females) matched for age and OSA severity. The initial short-latency excitatory reflex response was absent in 6/13 people with tetraplegia and 1/9 controls. Genioglossus reflex inhibition in the absence of excitation was observed in three people with tetraplegia and none of the controls. When the excitatory response was present, it was significantly delayed in the tetraplegia group compared to able-bodied controls: excitation onset latency (mean ± SD) was 32 ± 16 vs. 18 ± 9 ms, P = 0.045; peak excitation latency was 48 ± 17 vs. 33 ± 8 ms, P = 0.038. However, when present, amplitude of the excitation response was not different between groups, 195 ± 26 vs. 219 ± 98% at baseline, P = 0.55. There are major differences in genioglossus reflex morphology and timing in response to rapid changes in airway pressure in people with tetraplegia and OSA. Altered genioglossus function may contribute to the increased risk of OSA in people with tetraplegia. The precise mechanisms mediating these differences are unknown.