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Italian Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery 2011 December;22(3):163-7


language: English

Does obesity affect the anteroposterior airway size? A case control study based on cephalometric analysis

Gateño J. 1, Fusetti S. 2

1 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA; 2 Maxillofacial Surgery Unit, Department of Neurosciences, University of Padova Medical School, Padua, Italy


AIM: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of obesity on upper airway antero-posterior dimension.
METHODS: We reviewed the records of subjects treated in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, UT Dental Branch Houston, Texas, USA, from 1992 to 1994; and included for the further evaluations that with complete information about patient’s sex, age, height and weight collected at the time when cephalometric radiograms were taken. We excluded records with poor radiographs, and those of patients with craniofacial deformities, cleft palate, facial fractures, tumors of the head and neck or affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Patients were divided into an obese (case) and non-obese (control) group according to the patient’s Body Mass Index. Subjects’ x-rays were evaluated to measure different linear distances and angles of incidence between standardized cephalometric landmarks in order to assure the matching of the study groups. Mean soft palate length, posterior airway space, and hyoid to mandibular plane distances were also compared using a two-sample T-test.
RESULTS: Forty-three patients met the criteria for the obese group and 155 met the criteria for the non-obese one. Thirty records were randomly selected from each group for further analysis. The results of the study showed that there were no significant statistical differences between the two study groups for any of the variables evaluated.
CONCLUSION: This study showed that obesity does not influence the airways dimension in the antero-posterior plane. However, this conclusion should be interpreted with caution, as an effective evaluation of the complex structure of the upper airways should be implemented by means of three-dimensional investigations, and its correlation with obstructive respiratory disorder should be investigated by considering all the factors involved in its development.

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