Continuous positive airway pressure treatment with nasal pillows in obstructive sleep apnea: Long-term effectiveness and adherence

Andrea Lanza, Sara Mariani, Maurizio Sommariva, Chiara Campana, Annalisa Rubino, Michele Nichelatti, Paola Proserpio, Lino Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Backgrounds: Mask-related side effects can negatively influence adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Nasal pillows (P) can be an alternative to the standard nasal masks (N), although there are no data about their long-term efficacy. This study aimed to assess long-term effectiveness and adherence to CPAP therapy delivered with nasal pillows in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) patients. Methods: A retrospective observational design involving a series of consecutive CPAP-naïve patients affected by OSAS. After an initial mask fitting session all patients were allowed to choose the type of nasal interface (N or P) they preferred. Outcomes were assessed 5 days after CPAP titration, and after 2 and 12 months. Patients were offered the option of switching to an alternative mask if needed. Results: Data from 144 patients were analyzed. Subjects were predominantly male (76%), middle aged (58.14 ± 12.86), moderately obese (body mass index: 33.89 ± 7.56), and affected by severe OSAS (apnea-hypopnea index: 47.60 ± 21.31). A total of 102 patients (70.8%) chose P, and 42 (29.2%) chose N. Clinical and polygraphic features, and CPAP pressure levels were similar in P and N groups, both at baseline and at 12 months. A good adherence to treatment was observed in both groups (P, 5.5 ± 1.8 h; N, 5.3 ± 1.5 h). Seventy-six patients (53%) reported at least one side effect during the whole study period, without statistically significant between-group differences. Nostril pain was the most frequent side effect in P. Conclusions: Nasal pillows showed equal long-term effectiveness and objective adherence as standard nasal masks.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence
  • Continuous positive airway pressure
  • Interface
  • Mask
  • Nasal pillows
  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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