Cephalometry is often used to assess patients with sleep apnoea but whether these measurements differ from those in non-apnoeic snorers and how they are influenced by age is not clear. Cephalometric radiographs of patients with sleep apnoea were compared with those of snorers without sleep apnoea and those of non-snorers. Fifty two snorers with suspected sleep apnoea had a conventional sleep study and were divided into two groups: those with an apnoea-hypopnoea index greater than 10/h (n = 40, sleep apnoea group) and those whose apnoea-hypopnoea index was 10/h or less (n = 12, snorer group). The cephalometric measurements in these patients were compared with those of 34 non-snoring control subjects. Controls were subdivided into two groups: control group 1 included 17 subjects similar in age to the sleep apnoea and snorer groups (mean (SD) age 50.0 (10.9), 50.7 (9.4), and 50.6 (9.7) years); control group 2 included 15 young men (25.4 (2.6) years). The distance from the mandibular plane to the hyoid bone (MP-H) and the length of the soft palate were greater in the patients with sleep apnoea (28.7 (7.8) and 43.6 (5.0) mm) than in the snorers (23.7 (4.2) and 40.3 (4.9 mm). The MP-H was similar in snorers and age matched control subjects, but was significantly greater in the older than in the younger control subjects (22.1 (6.1) vs 17.0 (6.8]. The soft palate was longer in subjects who snored (both sleep apnoea patients and snorers) than in control subjects. The MP-H distance significantly correlated with age for all subjects (snorers and controls) and for the control subjects alone. This study shows that non-apnoeic snorers have cephalometric abnormalities that differ from those of patients with sleep apnoea and that cephalometric values are influenced by the subject's age.
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