Most sleep specialists agree that in a significant number of adult patients, obstruction in the area behind the tongue play an important role in OSA. Current data suggest that in some patients better outcomes are achieved by surgically targeting this area in addition to the nasal cavity and palate. Surgical procedures can be designed to make the tongue firmer and less collapsible during sleep, or can be used to remove tongue tissue, and therefore reducing its volume in some cases. As with any other technique careful patient evaluation is key for achieving good results.
Tongue Base Reduction for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The tongue is considered to play a significant role in upper airway blockage during sleep in a number of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers. Particularly in those who have an enlarged tongue base secondary to lymphatic tissue, usually called lingual tonsils, targeting this area may offer additional obstruction relief and improvement in surgical success.
This procedure is usually performed in combination with palatal interventions, approach commonly termed “multiple level surgery”, as it handles all locations, the palate, lateral pharyngeal walls, tonsils and tongue. Current data suggests that combined interventions have improved outcomes when compared with palatal surgery in isolation in select patients.