Effects of surgery for obstructive sleep apnea on cognitive function and driving performance

Uri Alkan*, Yuval Nachalon, Penina Weiss, Amit Ritter, Raphael Feinmesser, Hanna Gilat, Gideon Bachar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with a significantly increased risk of motor vehicle accidents in addition to such cognitive impairments as attention and memory deficits. The aim of the study was to examine the effect of upper airway surgery for OSA on driving and cognitive function. Methods: Adult patients who underwent surgery for OSA at a tertiary medical center in 2016–2019 were prospectively recruited. Patients were assessed before and 3–6 months after surgery with a self-report and neurocognitive battery and a driving simulation platform. Results: The cohort included 32 patients of average age 46.9 ± 11.6 years. During the 3 years before treatment, 9 patients had been involved in road accidents and 18 were detained by police for traffic violations. After surgery, there was a significant decrease in the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (13.7 vs. 8.1, p 0.043) and a significant reduction in time to completion of the Color Trail Test (part 1: 21.4 vs 18.7 s, p = 0.049; part 2: 46.8 vs 40.5 s, p = 0.038). Improvements in divided attention and selective attention response times were noted on the advanced stages of the Useful Field of Vision Scale (p = 0.013, p = 0.054). Before surgery, patients showed a high tendency to drive over the speed limit and to cross the dividing line to the opposite lane on the simulation test. Nevertheless, all considered themselves good drivers. These tendencies decreased after treatment. Conclusions: Surgery for OSA can significantly improve driving performance and cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSleep and Breathing
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cognitive function
  • Driving
  • Driving simulation
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of surgery for obstructive sleep apnea on cognitive function and driving performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this