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Omission of polysomnography in treatment of snoring: common reasons and medico-legal implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2006

Y. H. Goh
Department of Otolaryngology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.
D. K. S. Choy
Department of Otolaryngology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.


Although polysomnography (PSG) is an important investigation in the treatment of snorers, it was observed that a large number of patients did not have pre-operative PSG assessment in a tertiary hospital in Singapore. Of the 118 Asian patients who underwent surgery for snoring from January 1997 to December 1998, 36 (30.5 per cent) of patients did not have pre-operative PSG and only 21 (17.8 per cent) of patients had post-operative PSG. In this cohort, 43 (36.4 per cent) patients presented with snoring as their only complaint and not associated with symptoms indicative of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS). Thirty-one of these ‘simple snorers’ underwent sleep studies with the following outcome: two (6.5 per cent) true simple snorers, two (6.5 per cent) upper airway resistance syndrome, nine (29 per cent) mild OSAS, seven (22.6 per cent) moderate OSAS and 11 (35.5 per cent) severe OSAS. Our study showed that without the aid of PSG, it would be difficult to predict the severity of sleep apnoea based on clinical history alone. In an increasingly litigation-conscious society such as Singapore, there is therefore little justification in omitting PSG in the treatment of snoring. The common reasons for omission of preoperative PSG and the medico-legal implications are also discussed.

Research Article
Royal Society of Medicine Press Limited 2000

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