OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between quality of life and the relative severity of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and to compare changes in quality of life after adenotonsillectomy in children with similar demographics but with either obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) or with milder forms of SDB. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: All study participants underwent polysomnography to document the severity of SDB. The effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy for the relief of SDB was evaluated by using the OSA-18 quality of life survey (OSA-18). Preoperative and postoperative OSA-18 scores for each group of children (OSAS and mild SDB) were compared by using a repeated measures ANOVA. Changes between the 2 groups were compared by using an analysis of covariance with the preoperative score as a covariate. RESULTS: The study population included 61 children, 43 with OSAS and 18 with mild SDB. The demographics in the 2 groups were similar. The mean apnea-hypopnea index for children with OSAS was 21 (range, 5-46), and for children with mild SDB, it was 3 (range 0-4.9). The total OSA-18 score and the scores for all domains showed significant improvement after surgery for both groups of children (P < .001). A comparison of mean difference in total and domain scores for the 2 groups of children was not significant. CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE: Preoperative values for the OSA-18 total and domain scores are high in children with either OSAS or mild SDB. Both groups of children show a dramatic improvement in quality of life after adenotonsillectomy and the degree of improvement is similar. Fortunately, surgical therapy with adenotonsillectomy is associated with marked improvement in quality of life for children with either OSAS or mild SDB.
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