Which physical findings suggest obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Himanshu Wickramasinghe, MD, MBBS; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Examination findings may include the following:

  • Abnormal (increased) Mallampati score: Identifies risk for difficult tracheal intubation

  • Narrowing of the lateral airway walls: Independent predictor of the presence of obstructive sleep apnea in men but not women

  • Enlarged (ie, "kissing") tonsils (3+ to 4+)

  • Retrognathia or micrognathia

  • Large degree of overjet

  • High-arched hard palate

  • Systemic arterial hypertension: Present in about 50% of obstructive sleep apnea cases

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Pulmonary hypertension

  • Stroke

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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