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Efficacy of a Conservative Weight Loss Program in the Long-Term Management of Chronic Upper Airway Obstruction

Author(s): Ryan C. Case | John Schweinfurth

Journal: International Journal of Otolaryngology
ISSN 1687-9201

Volume: 2009;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Objective. Obesity is a significant contributor to oxygen demand and dynamic airway obstruction. The objective of the current study is to determine the long-term success of conservative measures directed toward weight reduction on airway management without respect to specific airway disease etiology. Methods. Patients with chronic airway obstruction secondary anatomic lesions or obstructive sleep apnea were recruited and followed prospectively. Demographics, initial and final weights, diagnosis, and followup information were recorded. Patients were referred to a registered dietician, provided counseling, and started on a weight-loss regimen. Outcome measures were change in body mass index (BMI) and rate of decannulation from weight loss alone. Results. Of fourteen patients, ten remained tracheostomy-dependent and four had high-grade lesions with the potential for improvement in oxygen demand and dynamic airway collapse with weight loss. The mean follow up period was 25 months. The mean change in BMI was an increase of 1.4 kg/m2 per patient. Conclusions. Conservative measures alone were not effective in achieving weight reduction in the population studied. This may be due to comorbid disease and poor compliance. The promise of decannulation was an insufficient independent motivator for weight loss in this study. Although the theoretical benefits of weight loss support its continued recommendation, the long-term success rate of conservative measures is low. More aggressive facilitated interventions including pharmacotherapy or bariatric surgery should be considered early in the course of treating airway disease complicated by obesity.
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