J Rhinol.  2009 Nov;16(2):87-90.

Pathogenesis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. yschung@amc.seoul.kr


Obstructive sleep apnea has a close relationship with the anatomical characteristics of the upper airway. But we should consider that obstructive sleep apnea always occurs only when the patients are asleep. Diminishing of neural signal to pharyngeal dilator muscles during the sleep state has a great role in the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea. Narrowing of the upper airway could be due to aging, abnormality of craniofacial skeleton, obesity, narrowing of nasal cavity, adhesive force of mucosa, gravity, sleep, vibratory trauma of upper airway when snoring, compliance of pharyngeal dilator muscle, and apnea threshold according to blood carbon dioxide concentration. Understanding of these possible causes may help to develop treatment modality for obstructive sleep apnea and to introduce individual treatment.


Sleep apnea; Physiopathology; Anatomy
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