Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder, which is associated with recurrent oxygen desaturation during sleep. It has already been shown that nocturnal hypoxia may lead to cochlear dysfunction in patients with OSA. Less is known whether hypoxia during sleep also impacts vestibular function in those patients. Thus, the aim of the presented study was to assess a potential vestibulotoxic effect of nightly desaturations with hypoxia in patients with OSA by investigating a possible correlation between respiratory parameters and vestibular function tests.
A total of 56 patients were included in the study and underwent a fully attended cardiorespiratory polysomnography (PSG). Vestibular function was assessed using video head impulse test to evaluate horizontal semicircular canal function and cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (cVEMPs) and ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (oVEMPs) to measure otolith function. Descriptive data analysis was conducted and correlation analysis between selected PSG parameters and the results of vestibular testing was performed using Kendall τ coefficient.
A significant correlation between vestibular function and respiratory polysomnographic parameters could not be demonstrated in the study ( > .05) but cVEMP and oVEMP results showed a trend toward a correlation with oxygen desaturation indices and apnea-hypopnea index. Additionally, otolith hypofunction was more prevalent in patients with hypertension as well as OSA.
The results of our study show that there is no significant correlation between vestibular function and sleep apnea parameters, although otolith dysfunction might be more prevalent in patients with OSA and hypertension.