Rapid maxillary expansion and adenotonsillectomy are proven treatments of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children. Our goal was to investigate whether rapid maxillary expansion should be offered as an alternative to surgery in select patients. In addition, if both therapies are required, the order in which to perform these interventions needs to be determined.Prepubertal children with moderate OSA clinically judged to require both adenotonsillectomy and orthodontic treatment were randomized into 2 treatment groups. Group 1 underwent adenotonsillectomy followed by orthodontic expansion. Group 2 underwent therapies in the reverse sequence.Thirty-two children (16 girls) in an academic sleep clinic.Clinical evaluation and polysomnography were performed after each stage to assess efficacy of each treatment modality.The 2 groups were similar in age, symptoms, apnea-hypopnea index, and lowest oxygen saturation. Two children with orthodontic treatment first did not require subsequent adenotonsillectomy. Thirty children underwent both treatments. Two of them were still symptomatic and presented with abnormal polysomogram results following both therapies. In the remaining 28 children, all results were significantly different from those at entry (P = 0.001) and from single therapy (P = 0.01), regardless of the order of treatment. Both therapies were necessary to obtain complete resolution of OSA.In our study, 87.5% of the children with sleep-disordered breathing had both treatments. In terms of treatment order, 2 of 16 children underwent orthodontic treatment alone, whereas no children underwent surgery alone to resolve OSA. Two children who underwent both treatments continued to have OSA.
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