Sunday, May 24, 2009

Somnoplasty and sleep apnea

A procedure (or surgery) to alleviate sleep apnea is somnoplasty. Somnoplasty, developed by Somnus Medical Technologies, Inc. is relatively new it received its clearance for treatment by the FDA in 1998.

Basically this procedure attempts to minimize the effects of the vibrations of the soft palate and uvula during sleep. Radio frequency energy is directed at the soft palate and uvula causing clotting beneath the soft palate and uvula. Lesions are formed when this is done. Over the course of several months the lesions are reabsorbed making the soft palate stiff eliminating the snoring.

The procedure is done in an outpatient setting, much like the LAUP procedure. A local anesthesia is given and the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes. It is relatively painless and the recovery is quick.

The success of the procedure will usually be determined within 6 to 8 weeks. Another treatment may be necessary.

I was informed by my doctor that this procedure probably wouldn’t help me because my sleep apnea is due to an enlarged tongue. He also told me that many insurance companies don’t cover somnoplasty. But it still might be something to look into if your sleep apnea is caused by the soft palate or uvula.

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