This new surgery could help treat sleep apnea

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Almost 1 billion people are estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) globally, with the main treatment continuous positive pressure airway (CPAP) tolerated by only half of those who try it.

Almost 30% of people with OSA wake up very easily with light sleep and other problems caused by minor airway narrowing.

In a recent study at Flinders University, researchers found a simple yet effective surgery can be an option for specialists around the world for managing difficult OSA cases.

After a rigorous evaluation of the surgery, they showed excellent outcomes in sleep apnea patients who had been unable to use CPAP treatment.

These patients achieved relief from snoring and disrupted sleep and experienced improved general health.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. One author is Emeritus Professor Doug McEvoy.

In the study, the multi-level surgical technique combining a new version of palate surgery with a low-risk tongue procedure to create an improved airway resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of night-time apnea events and improvements in daytime sleepiness and quality of life.

After removing any tonsils, the palate is repositioned and the tongue treated to open up the airway and reduce obstruction.

The team says the surgery offers promise to millions of people around the world who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea but cannot adapt to using a CPAP mask or similar device each night.

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