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PURPOSE: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common, significantly underdiagnosed sleep-related breathing disorder, characterised by upper airway collapse and resultant intermittent hypoxia. Oxygen plays an important role in collagen synthesis and as a result in wound healing. An association between OSA and wound healing has not been clearly delineated. A systematic review was performed to understand this association. METHODS: Randomised controlled trials, cohort, cross-sectional and case-control studies evaluating the relationship between OSA or OSA-related symptoms and wound healing in adult populations were searched in the systematic review using electronic databases PubMed, EMBASE and Ovid MEDLINE. MAIN RESULTS: A total of 11 cohort studies and 1 case-control study with a total of 58,198,463 subjects were included. Most studies suggest that patients diagnosed with OSA or who are at high risk of having OSA are more likely to suffer from wound complications. Patients with OSA have been found to be at higher risk for post-operative wound infection and wound dehiscence. Contradictory results were obtained on time to heal, with one study concluding that individuals with OSA were more likely to heal earlier when compared to patients without OSA. Quality of evidence, however, was deemed very low due to high risk of bias. CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review did identify an association between OSA and wound healing. However, due to the very low-quality evidence, further research is warranted to better characterise this association and investigate whether or not treating OSA can indeed affect wound healing.

Original publication




Journal article


Sleep Breath

Publication Date





775 - 787


Hypoxia, Obstructive sleep apnoea, Sleep breathing disorder, Wound healing, Adult, Humans, Case-Control Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Sleep Apnea, Obstructive, Sleep, Wound Healing