Somnoplasty: Treating Upper Airway Disorders
Somnoplasty is an office-based procedure performed using local anesthesia to treat upper-airway obstructions. Somnoplasty is FDA approved for use in the treatment of three conditions: habitual snoring (soft palate and uvula), chronic nasal obstruction (enlarged inferior turbinates) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS).
Somnoplasty uses controlled, low-power radiofrequency energy to create one or several lesions in the area of obstruction, either the soft palate or the turbinates or tongue tissue. Over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, the lesions are naturally resorbed, reducing tissue volume and stiffening remaining tissue in the desired area.
For years, the medical community has searched for a less invasive solution for the treatment of upper-airway disorders. Surgical therapies have succeeded in reducing obstructions in some patients, but carry significant risks and almost always result in significant postoperative pain. Nonsurgical methods can provide some relief, but often prove ineffective because of variable compliance and widespread patient discomfort.
Chronic stuffy nose due to enlargement of turbinates affects over 1.5 billion people worldwide and is irreversible except through surgical intervention. (see http://www.entcolumbia.org/nasobst.htm) Through a partially insulated electrode, Somnoplasty reduces nasal tissues with minimal, if any, crusting or bleeding. The procedure typically takes less than 2 minutes per turbinate. One study demonstrated that 89% of patients were no longer using medication for nasal obstruction at the end of 8 weeks. Multiple lesions can improve response rates even further.
It is estimated that over 40 million North Americans are affected by habitual snoring. Snoring usually results from enlargement or abnormal positioning of the soft palate and uvula (at the back of the mouth), causing partial airway obstruction. Somnoplasty provides a relatively painless procedure to treat habitual snoring by gently reducing and stiffening the soft-palate tissue. Snoring gradually decreases during the four to six weeks following Somnoplasty, and post-treatment pain is negligible to mild. Patients do not need nasal packing or pain medications, and may return to normal activities immediately after the procedure.
Somnoplasty has proven to be an excellent option to relieve upper-airway obstructions with minimum intraoperative and postoperative pain. In a recent study on habitual snoring, 9% of patients undergoing Somnoplasty needed narcotic analgesics, as compared to 100% of patients undergoing laser assisted uvulo-palatoplasty (LAUP) and uvulo-palatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) upper-airway procedures. Somnoplasty has also been shown to effectively reduce tongue-tissue volume for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. It is a feasible and safe method for palate-tissue reduction for the treatment of habitual snoring. And Somnoplasty has also proven effective in the improvement of nasal obstruction caused by turbinate hypertrophy.