Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is increasingly prevalent in the range of 2% to 24% in the US population. OSA is a well-described predictor of pulmonary complications after elective operation. Yet, data are lacking on its effect after operations for trauma. We hypothesized that OSA is an independent predictor of pulmonary complications in patients undergoing operations for traumatic pelvic/lower limb injuries (PLLI).
Nationwide Inpatient Sample (2009-2013) was queried for International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes for PLLI requiring operation. Elective admissions and those with concurrent traumatic brain injury with moderate to prolonged loss of consciousness were excluded. Outcome measures were pulmonary complications including ventilatory support, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pulmonary embolism (PE), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and respiratory failure. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used, adjusting for OSA, age, sex, race/ethnicity, and specific comorbidities (obesity, chronic lung disease, and pulmonary circulatory disease). P<0.01 was considered statistically significant.
Among the 337 333 patients undergoing PLLI operation 3.0% had diagnosed OSA. Patients with OSA had more comorbidities and were more frequently discharged to facilities. Median length of stay was longer in the OSA group (5 vs 4 days, p<0.001). Pulmonary complications were more frequent in those with OSA. Multivariable logistic regression showed that OSA was an independent predictor of ventilatory support (adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 1.37; 95% CI,1.24 to 1.51), PE (aOR 1.40; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.70), ARDS (aOR 1.36; 95% CI,1.23 to 1.52), and respiratory failure (aOR 1.90; 95% CI, 1.74 to 2.06).
OSA is an independent and underappreciated predictor of pulmonary complications in those undergoing emergency surgery for PLLI. More aggressive screening and identification of OSA in trauma patients undergoing operation are necessary to provide closer perioperative monitoring and interventions to reduce pulmonary complications and improve outcomes.
Prognostic Level IV.

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