Severe obstructive sleep apnea in children with syndromic craniosynostosis: analysis of pulse transit time

Sumin Yang, Eris van Twist, Gwen G M van Heesch, Rogier C J de Jonge, Maartje Louter, Robert C Tasker, Irene M J Mathijssen, Koen F M Joosten

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We examined the association between pulse transit time (PTT) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children with syndromic craniosynostosis (SCS), where OSA is a common problem and may cause cardiorespiratory disturbance.


Retrospective study of children (age <18 years) with SCS and moderate-to-severe OSA (i.e., obstructive apnea-hypopnea index [oAHI] ≥ 5), or no OSA (oAHI < 1) who underwent overnight polysomnography (PSG). Children without SCS and normal PSG were included as controls. Reference intervals (RIs) for PTT were computed by non-parametric bootstrap analysis. Based on RIs of controls, the sensitivity and specificity of PTT to detect OSA were determined. In a linear mixed-model the explanatory variables assessed were sex, age, sleep stage, and time after obstructive events.


In all 68 included children (19 SCS with OSA, 30 SCS without OSA, 19 controls), obstructive events occurred throughout all sleep stages, most prominently during rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non-REM sleep stages N1 and N2, with evident PTT changes. Greatest reductions were observed 4 - 8 s after an event (p < 0.05). In SCS with OSA, PTT RIs were lower during all sleep stages compared to SCS without OSA. The highest sensitivity was observed during N1 (55.5%), and the highest specificity during REM (76.5%). Lowest PTT values were identified during N1.


Obstructive events occur throughout all sleep stages with transient reductions in PTT. However, PTT as a variable for OSA detection is limited by its sensitivity and specificity.

Bibliographical note

© 2024 American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


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