Modified surgical procedure appears effective for treating obstructive sleep apnea


CHICAGO A modified version of a surgical procedure used to treat obstructive sleep apnea appears to be effective for reducing symptoms of the disorder, according to an article in The Archives of Otolaryngology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to information in the article, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by snoring and by interruptions in breathing during sleep, which can be life-threatening. Surgery to remove some of the tissue in the throat to widen the airway can reduce symptoms of OSA, but reports indicate that fewer than 50 percent of patients completely respond to this surgery, called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). To improve the response rate, a modified version of this surgery was developed called extended uvulopalatal flap (EUPF) surgery. EUPF surgery removes fatty tissues, soft glands in the throat and the tonsils to increase the airway space while sparing muscle tissue.

Hsueh-Yu Li, M.D., of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of EUPF surgery in 55 consecutively treated patients (average age, 45 years) with obstructive sleep apnea. Surgery took place between January 1, 2001 and June 30, 2001.

Overall, EUPF surgery had a success rate of 82 percent. Patients who underwent EUPF surgery snored less, reported being less sleepy during the day, and had improvements in blood oxygen levels.

"Extended uvulopalatal flap surgery can greatly reduce sleep-related adverse events and proves to be an effective therapy to enhance the quality of life of patients with obstructive sleep apnea," the authors conclude.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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