WASHINGTON—New research into a reflex of the pharynx that occurs when pressure drops during breathing while people sleep could yield new medications that better target patients’ root problems with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a researcher who spoke here during a session at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, held Sept. 9–12.
Explore this issue:October 2012
Measuring the so-called “negative pressure reflex,” which activates to keep the pharynx patent as a sleeping person breathes, might also help improve the success rate of surgery. This is because it may be that the person with OSA has a reflex problem rather than an anatomical problem, and might not be helped by surgery, said Atul Malhotra, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The sleep apnea session also covered new therapies and combinations of therapies for children with sleep apnea and the presentation of new computer modeling that has allowed researchers to see how air travels through the upper airway, offering a new depth of understanding that could have clinical implications.