This study’s objective is to systematically review the literature on natural sleep endoscopy (NSE), including the set-up, different scoring systems, visualized collapse patterns during natural sleep, additional measurements, and comparison of upper airway collapse between NSE and drug-induced sleep endoscopy (DISE). A computerized search on Medline, Web of Science and the Cochrane library was conducted, obtaining 39 hits. Ten prospective studies were included in which NSE was performed in adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This study’s findings suggest the soft palate to be the most frequent site of obstruction (58.8 %), followed by the tongue base (43.2 %), lateral walls (29.9 %), and epiglottis (22.4 %), which is in line with previous findings during DISE. Based on this literature review, the authors conclude that at this stage high quality, comparative research between DISE and NSE is missing. To adequately compare findings between OSA patients, endoscopic classification of upper airway collapse should be standardized. Non-invasive predictive tools to determine pharyngeal collapse are currently under investigation and may obviate the need for invasive endoscopy. This review highlights the contribution of NSE in validating such novel diagnostic methods and in studying upper airway mechanics in a research setting, yet larger and adequately powered studies are needed.
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