Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (Ear, Nose, and Throat)
Snoring and disturbance of sleep may signify a dangerous situation known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when someone continuously stops breathing at night. Such patients are at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. Usually, a sleep study is performed to diagnose these conditions, as medical history and physical exam are not enough. MetroHealth offers three sleep study locations, learn more.
Radiofrequency and Pillar Implants
Snoring, and mild sleep apnea, may be addressed through either:
- Radiofrequency (Rf) treatment to the palate
- Pillar implants to the palate
Both techniques are performed in the office. These procedures are relatively painless. For the radiofrequency, a probe is inserted into the palate and radiofrequency energy is applied to stiffen and shrink the tissue. For the pillars implants, a soft segment of suture-type material is inserted into the palate at three sites to stiffen the area.
Continuous Airway Positive Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous airway positive pressure (CPAP) is a tremendously effective tool to treat OSA. A mask is worn at night while air is blown through the nose, and sometimes mouth, to keep the airway from collapsing. At times, the mask is hard for patients to accept and other means to treat sleep apnea are investigated.
A tracheostomy bypasses the upper airway and will cure sleep apnea. The issue of having a tube in the anterior neck often prohibits patients from considering this therapy.
Minimizing obstruction to the upper airway may improve sleep apnea as well. The nose might be addressed with a septoplasty and/or turbinate reduction. The tonsils and/or adenoids might be removed to make more room. The palate might be trimmed; this is called a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). A UPPP should reduce the noise of snoring as the floppy palate tissue that often blocks the patient's airway is minimized. This surgery needs to be done carefully as the palate is important for snoring, and over resection could lead to liquids coming out the nose during swallowing. The tongue is a frequent contributor to obstruction: An oversized tongue may be reduced with Rf treatment in the operating room. Lastly, obesity contributes greatly to OSA; weight reduction is highly desirable, and surgery for weight reduction is possible.