THURSDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Conducting sleep studies of children before removing their tonsils and adenoids (adenotonsillectomy) may help identify those at increased risk for postoperative respiratory complications, a new study suggests.

U.S. researchers analyzed the medical records of 1,131 children who underwent adenotonsillectomy at a pediatric hospital. Of the 151 patients who took part in a sleep study (polysomnography) before surgery, 23 (15.2 percent) experienced respiratory complications after surgery.

The sleep studies showed that the children who suffered postoperative respiratory complications scored significantly higher on the apnea-hypopnea index, which rates the overall severity of sleep apnea, including sleep disruptions or low levels of oxygen in the blood.

These children also scored higher on the hypopnea index (episodes of overly shallow breathing or abnormally low respiratory rates) and had lower nadir oxygen saturation (the lowest level of oxygen saturation), said Dr. Eric M. Jaryszak, of the George Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues.

The children who suffered respiratory complications also had a higher body-mass index (a measurement that takes into account height and weight) and were more likely to be obese than patients who did not have complications -- 47.8 percent vs. 29.7 percent, respectively.

The researchers also found that children who experienced respiratory complications spent an additional 22 days in the hospital, according to the study published in the January issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology --Head and Neck Surgery.

"Polysomnographic data may potentially be used for predicting which patients are at higher risk for adverse respiratory events after adenotonsillectomy," the authors concluded in a journal news release. "Such knowledge is valuable in planning postoperative management and perhaps intraoperative anesthesia management."

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery has more about adenoids and tonsils.