The challenge is finding the right site for surgery. Problem areas related to OSA include the tonsils, tongue, soft palate, throat, jaw and nose.
As a result, surgery isn’t a “one size fits all” treatment. In fact, the AASM’s clinical guidelines list more than 20 common surgical procedures for OSA.
Yesterday the Baylor College of Medicine reported that one way to address this challenge is to use an “endoscope;” this is a small flexible device with a camera on the end.
Doctors at the BCM are using it to help identify the cause of obstructions that happen during sleep apnea. They insert the endoscope into the back of the nose to view the throat while the patient is sedated and sleeps.
The camera gives them a front-row seat when an episode of OSA occurs. By finding the cause of the problem, they can develop a more precise treatment plan. This helps prevent unnecessary surgery.
The AASM reports that CPAP therapy is the treatment of choice for all severity levels of OSA. An oral appliance and surgery are alternative treatment options that may help some people with sleep apnea.
The AASM clinical guidelines report that “maxillary and mandibular advancement” is one surgical procedure that is often effective. Cuts are made into the bones of the upper and lower jaws. The jaws are pulled forward to enlarge the entire upper airway.
Most other sleep apnea surgeries will rarely cure OSA; you may need to continue with another treatment such as CPAP. But surgery may help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Positive results also may not be permanent; symptoms may reappear at a later time after surgery.
Get help for sleep apnea at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.