Consultant ENT surgeon Michael Oko, UK government advisor on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and founder of the Sleeping Disorders Centre, ran a seminar on sleeping disorders at the 10th Middle East Update in Otolaryngology last week.
Mr Oko presented data on the morbidity of OSA, and revealed his experience of how treating it can reduce fatal car accidents, as evidenced in Lincolnshire, UK:
“Because of a prolonged campaign about the condition and the better treatment options available after the Sleeping Disorders Centres were established, we have seen the rate of annual traffic fatalities in Lincolnshire fall from 79 to 39 within five years. At least any traffic accidents brought about by this condition can be minimised if more patients seek help. Studies show that up to 20% of road traffic accidents are sleep-related, so with over 1000 road deaths a year in UAE, and over 6300 in Saudi Arabia [2007 police data], a sleep apnoea testing and treatment programme could reduce fatalities significantly.”
In the seminar Mr Oko also spoke about the history of OSA, and how it could be the future of ENT. He stated:
“Obstructive Sleep Apnoea has been known about since 1956 and has been predominantly the domain of respiratory physicians. There is now overwhelming evidence that this is a highly cost effective condition to treat, and as the definition of the condition is upper airway obstruction it is de novo the domain of ENT to lead the management of this condition in a multidisciplinary team approach. There have been consistent and multiple attacks on the evidence base for most ENT interventions (e.g. Tonsillectomy) and so to survive as a specialism we need to embrace OSA as our future.”
OSA is a rising problem in the Gulf as obesity levels (the major risk factor for OSA) are reaching those of the US and Europe. Hard data is scarce due to a lack of awareness of the condition and scarcity of treatment facilities in the region, however, a study conducted at King Khalid University and King Fahd National Guard primary health care clinics in Riyadh, between December 2005 and March 2006, found that a third of middle-aged Saudi males taking part showed symptoms of sleep apnoea.
Speaking alongside Mr Oko was Professor Ram Dhillon, giving; “Tips and pearls on practical aspects of sleep apnoea treatment”, and Peter J Catalano, who asked; “Nasal surgery for OSA: Always, sometimes, never?”. Also on the panel were Gerald Wolf and Ahmed Elbassiouny.