Stanford Sleep Surgery
Tonsils and the palate are intimately associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and snoring, as the area behind the palate is usually the throat’s narrowest point. Patients with OSA usually have an excessive amount of flaccid tissue in the oropharynx area that blocks the airway during sleep and cause snoring. Surgery aims to stiffen this flaccidness and decrease tissue redundancy. In most cases a combination of surgical procedures is done in order to rearrange the pharyngeal wall and open the airway, decreasing the possibilities of collapse.
For these procedures, outcomes can vary widely for individual patients and careful planning and judgment is mandatory. In cases of patients who may have socially disruptive snoring without significant obstructive sleep apnea, minimally invasive techniques performed as office procedures, including radiofrequency applications and palatal implants can be used in selected patients.
Tonsils are lymphatic tissue pads situated at the back of the throat, one at each side. Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils, with the purpose of maximizing airflow in OSA patients. It is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia.
The surgery consists of tissue rearrangement at the uvula, palate and throat walls in order to increase the airway size and decrease tissue collapse.
Initially described several decades ago, this technique has been refined with several modifications to minimize possible long-term side effects such as swallowing problems, voice changes or permanent feeling of a foreign body in the throat. However these side effects, while rare, may still occur.
Palate Radiofrequency is a procedure in which a needle-like instrument is inserted into the soft palate and energy is transmitted to the tissue to cause a controlled damage, so by the time healing process occurs, the area will be stiffened and reduced, decreasing snoring and mild upper airway resistance.
It is an office procedure, performed under local anesthesia, and it takes about 10 minutes. More than one session might be necessary for satisfactory results.