Tonsil Size and Mallampati Score as Clinical Predictive Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity in Children

 J Contemp Dent Pract

2021 Jul 1;22(7):850-853.

Aim and objective: The aim of this study was to determine the clinical utility of body mass index (BMI), tonsil size, and Mallampati scoring in predicting both the presence of and severity of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Materials and methods: This prospective cross-sectional study comprised 78 growing children in the age range of 11-14 years with polysomnography (PSG)-proven OSA and 86 non-OSA corresponding controls. BMI, tonsil size (Friedman grading scale), and Mallampati score were determined for both groups, and related differences were assessed with a t-test, while their independent association with OSA severity was tested with a regression analysis. Statistical significance was set at p <0.05.

Results: Male gender, BMI, tonsil size, and Mallampati score were significantly higher in the OSA group (p < 0.05). A significant correlation was recorded between the Mallampati score and OSA severity (p < 0.01), but not with BMI or tonsil size (p > 0.05). For every 1-point increase in the Mallampati scale, the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) increased by more than five events per hour in the bivariate analysis and by more than three events per hour in the multivariate analysis.

Conclusion: Male gender, increased BMI, high tonsil, and Mallampati scores were clinical indicators of the presence of OSA. However, only Mallampati scale had a significant association with OSA severity. Clinical diagnostic indicators should be established and encouraged especially in community-based studies.

Clinical significance: Clinical diagnostic indicators are very useful in examining and screening children who are at risk of developing OSA as PSG is expensive and unsuitable for universal use in the pediatric population.