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This is an unpublished paper. Copyright retained by authors.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether a short neck, alone or together with a thick neck, can predict obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).


The laryngeal heights of 169 new adult patients presenting to a sleep medicine physician were measured over a period of 5 months. Neck circumference, Mallampati score, and body-mass index (BMI) were also determined, together with medical history, smoking status, and serum bicarbonate. Lastly, patients’ polysomnograms were obtained in order to ascertain the presence or absence of OSA as indicated by the apnea-hypopnea index, as well as other sleep study parameters.


No association was found between laryngeal height and presence of OSA, bicarbonate concentration or oxygen saturation. Of interest, neck circumference was also not significantly associated with any of the aforementioned parameters, although there was a trend towards significance in its association with OSA (p=0.055). Still, a combined short laryngeal height and large neck circumference was associated with lower nadir SaO2 (p=0.018). Of all clinical parameters we measured, only higher BMI, older age and male sex were positively associated with OSA (p<0.05).


This study challenges the popular notion that short necks predict OSA.