Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious health disorder which can affect a number of areas of life. People suffering from it have a disturbed sleep and may wake up choking or gasping for breath in the middle of the night, have memory loss, severe headaches in the morning and a lack of concentration through the day.
Surgical treatment is only considered if non surgical treatment like the use of oral appliances, weight loss, nasal steroid sprays and positive pressure treatments has not had the desired results. The various surgical options available to the patient are:
1. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
This is the most common type of surgery that is undertaken for the treatment of sleep apnea. It basically looks to remove any excess tissue present in the throat so as to make the airway bigger and thus easier for air to pass through.
The surgery is customized to the anatomic presentation of the patient, however the end objective remains the same. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. The recovery period is usually around a couple of weeks and patients can expect to get back o their normal diet at around two weeks.
This is a low risk procedure with serious complications uncommon.
2. Radiofrequency Turbinate Reduction (RFTR)
Nasal obstruction and congestion due to a number of causes like polyps, deviated septums, enlarged adenoids and turbinates can cause sleep apnea, heavy snoring and disturbed sleep.
RFTR is performed under local anesthesia and uses radiofrequency to reduce the size of tissues in both sides of the nose. This procedure can be performed as an out-patient procedure and is gaining popularity because it is effective without being too invasive.
3. Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
These procedures are considered as the first option for children or young adults suffering from sleep apnea. The procedure involves the removal of enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
It is important to get these procedures at the right time as a delay can affect the normal development of a child both physically and mentally.
This procedure is done under general anesthesia and is considered a routine surgical procedure carrying low risk to the patient.
4. Procedure involving the lower throat
These involve those procedures dealing with a larger than normal sized tongue, the collapse of the epiglottis or muscular abnormalities in the region.
The treatment can involve a removal of some part of the tongue (usually closer to the base) or to advance it forward so that it does not cause an obstruction of the airway. The hyoid bone, to which the base of the tongue is attached, can also be advanced and repositioned to help clear the airway obstruction.
A newer technique that involves the placement of a mechanical device that helps stimulate the tongue to remain in a protracted position during sleep has also shown success.
The recovery period depends upon the kind of surgical procedure performed as well as the amount of tissue that has been removed, however most procedures will not require more than a couple of weeks of discomfort and rehabilitation.
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