Things to Know Before Surgery If You Have Sleep Apnea

Bearing in mind that every surgery requires thoughtful preparation for the best outcomes, the special considerations for surgery patients with OSA do require some additional forethought by the patient as well as the surgical and hospital medical staff. Medical professionals have known for quite some time that patients with sleep apnea were at an increased risk of developing complications after operations. Although medical personnel has specific protocols in place for OSA patients undergoing surgery, the patient must be aware and proactive regarding the things they should know and do before surgery.

Sedation can relax the throat muscles beyond the normal level in non-OSA patients. Therefore, patients with obstructive sleep apnea tend to be more sensitive to what would otherwise be non-obstructive doses of drugs. Anesthesia can increase apnea episodes in quantity and severity, thereby further decreasing the all-important arterial oxygen saturation.

The anesthesiologist will perform thorough history and examination before the surgery, which often reveals airway difficulty. However, every OSA patient should be proactive in preparing themselves and their anesthesiologist by informing them well before the surgery. The majority of anesthesiology departments will have someone talk to you about your options and your concerns. So, it’s important to make contact as soon as you schedule your surgery.

Working with the anesthesiologist ahead of time gives them time to come up with a plan. They’ll want to prioritize your comfort and safety relative to pre-existing problems such as OSA. The final choice of the type of anesthesia will be a team decision between the patient, surgeon, and anesthesiologist. It will be based on the circumstances, and the patient can have some control over the choice.

ResMed VPAP machine
ResMed VPAP machine

In addition, not every person on the hospital medical staff will be familiar with the operation of each various model and type of CPAP, APAP, or VPAP machines. Consequently, it is wise to inform hospital staff of the machine beforehand so that they have an opportunity to be sure of its proper operation before your operation and hospital stay.

The Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation requires the hospital engineering staff to inspect your CPAP machines beforehand if a patient needs them during recovery. OSA patients should make arrangements to bring it in early so that the staff can inspect it as soon as possible. That way, there is no problem when it comes time for its use. Providing the staff with a copy of the prescription covering your prescribed pressure is also recommended.

Bringing the CPAP, APAP, or VPAP machines to the hospital will not be necessary for same-day surgery. You will be home again the evening immediately following the surgery. For in-hospital stays overnight, you will likely need your machine. Since every patient is closely monitored in the recovery room where potential breathing problems can be easily handled, your machine will not be needed until you are returned to your room.

Regardless of the type of procedure, your hospital’s surgical and medical staff is very ready to deal with OSA patients. The surgery and recovery are without complication in relation to your OSA. Be proactive and consult with the hospital before the surgery date. You can do your part in helping them prepare for the smoothest possible surgery. This will give you the peace of mind to concentrate on recovery and getting back to 100 percent.

For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog. It has constant updates and offers free advice and information. If you’d like to learn more about The CPAP Shop, call us at (866) 414-9700. Or, you can contact us through our website:

Chris Vasta


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…

6 Comments Leave new

  • Kimberly collins

    I was told that I need to use my CPAP for Six weeks prior to my gas trip bypass but I have not been using it because my symptoms have gone away so they are having me do a sleep study and my surgery is scheduled for July 25 do you think they reschedule my surgery if I still need the CPAP?

  • Gene

    I had deep brain stimulation about 3 weeks ago for tremors. Will wearing the straps on the head hurt the operation

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Gene,
      I would suggest asking your doctor because that is the most appropriate course for such a delicate matter

  • anna Barnett

    I was asked to bring my cpap mask for outpatient surgery. Is there a reason?

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Anna,
      We can only speculate on this answer, so, as with all medical questions, we advise you to discuss your question with your physician.

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