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Sleep Apnea Surgery

August 29th, 2009


Sleep Apnea Surgery information on this page includes:-


General Information on Sleep Apnea Surgery

Sleep Apnea Surgery is most commonly performed by doctors who are Otolaryngologists (specializing in the ears, nose, and throat) and Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons.  You will normally require a referral from you family doctor prior to consulting with a Sleep Apnea Surgery specialist.

Your doctor will check your mouth, nose, and throat for extra or large tissues to determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.

Adults with apnea may have an enlarged uvula or soft palate that is responsible for restricting the airflow while sleeping. The uvula is the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of your mouth while the soft palate is the roof of your mouth in the back of your throat.

Goals of Sleep Apnea Surgery Treatment

The goals of Sleep Apnea Surgery are usually to open the airway sufficiently to eliminate or to reduce obstructions to a clinically insignificant level so as to:

  • Restore regular breathing during sleep
  • Relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness

Sleep Apnea Surgery does not always cure apnea but it may reduce the number of apneas to a level that alternative treatment options may be more effective and available to you.

Sleep Apnea Surgery Options

Sleep Apnea Surgery to shrink or stiffen excess tissue in the mouth or throat may involve small injections or other treatments to the tissue. A series of such treatments may be needed to shrink the excess tissue.

To stiffen excess tissue, one Sleep Apnea Surgery procedure involves the doctor making small cuts in the throat soft tissue and inserting small pieces of stiff plastic.

Surgery to remove excess tissue from the throat, including the tonsils if they’re blocking the airway, is only done in a hospital under general anesthetic.  Depending on the extent of the Sleep Apnea Surgery throat pain can be significant and often lasts for some weeks.

The most common Sleep Apnea Surgery is the UPPP procedure, which is intended to enlarge the airway by removing or shortening the uvula, removing the tonsils and adenoids if present, as well as removing part of the soft palate or roof of the mouth.

A tracheotomy; the surgical creation of a hole in the trachea or windpipe below the site of obstructions; is the most radical but effective surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is generally reserved for serious apnea that has failed other treatments. The hole is normally plugged (and usually covered) during the day for normal breathing and unplugged during sleep so that the obstructions are bypassed. The tracheotomy site must be cleaned carefully daily to prevent infections.

Other Sleep Apnea Surgery procedures available include laser treatment where part of the tongue is removed as well as the enlargement of the airway by surgically moving the jaw forward. These procedures have a higher success rate but involve surgeries that may last up to several hours and generally require a significant recovery period.

Another Sleep Apnea Surgery procedure is radio frequency tissue ablation (RFTA), to shrink the size of the tongue and/or palate. Multiple treatments are often necessary, and it may be performed in conjunction with other therapies as well.

Sleep Apnea Surgery Effectiveness

In general, Sleep Apnea Surgery has the potential to help many apnea sufferers, but effectiveness varies from person to person. With all of these procedures there is also a risk that the surgery could potentially worsen the apnea and you should discuss this with your doctor prior to scheduling Sleep Apnea Surgery. Only a doctor who has examined you and your airway should advise you on having surgery and you should clearly evaluate the pro’s and con’s of all options before proceeding with Sleep Apnea Surgery. .

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