Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea is usually associated with multiple levels of pharyngeal airway collapse, including tongue base obstruction. A new technique has recently been introduced that improves the nocturnal retro-lingual airway. This study was a prospective, non-randomized single-institution evaluation of a recently introduced surgical technique. Nineteen consecutive patients with previously untreated moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea underwent tongue suspension using the Respose™ system and concomitant palatopharyngoplasty (multilevel pharyngeal surgery). The patient demographics and treatment outcomes were prospectively collected and retrospectively analysed. There were 16 men and three women, with a mean (±SD) age of 44.9 years (±14.2) and a mean pre-operative apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) of 42.8 ± 24.8. Twelve of the 19 patients (63.2 per cent) have had post-operative polysomnography; eight of these 12 (67 per cent) met the standard criteria for surgical response. Among these eight patients, the AHI improved from 32.4 to 14.4 (p<0.01); the individual scores fell by a mean of 51.7 per cent. The apnoea index improved from 7.4 to 0.9 (p<0.01), with the individual scores falling by a mean of 81.4 per cent. There was anatomic and radiographic evidence of multilevel upper airway enlargement. Notably, the body mass index remained essentially unchanged (31.5 ± 7.2 to 31.2 ± 7.6, p>0.5). Subjectively, the mean Epworth sleepiness scale score fell from 11.0 ± 5.4 to 5.4 ± 3.8 (p<0.005). Four patients suffered transient velopharyngeal insufficiency, and two patients complained of limited anterior excursion of the tongue. There were no serious, long-term complications. The tongue suspension procedure represents a minimally invasive technique for improving the nocturnal retro-lingual airway in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. It is easily performed by otolaryngologists, distinguishing it from other established techniques designed to address tongue base obstruction.
- Sleep Apnoea, Obstructive
- Surgical Procedures, Operative
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