Friday, 10 February 2012

Somnoplasty Surgery: Viable Option to Restore Obstruction-Free Breathing

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Surgery is not always the most favorite option for the doctor treating obstructions in the airway tract. Depending on the location of the obstruction, doctors initially try various non-interventional therapies to allow the patient to breathe normally. However, when all such attempts fail, surgery is imperative. If it is a matter of reducing, tightening and stiffening enlarged tissues in the upper air passage, somnoplasty surgery is the only surgical option that uses FDA-approved temperature-controlled radiofrequency energy (TCRF) technology.

What are the tissues that can be involved in this surgery?

The technology is developed by Somnus Medical Technologies. FDA approved the procedure in 1997 for the treatment of habitual snoring and upper airway resistance syndrome. It successfully reduces and tightens tissues of the tonsils, nasal passages; palate and base of tongue. The procedure is particularly successful in treating obstructive sleep apnea when the condition is caused by deviated nasal septum. It is also performed to treat chronic nasal obstruction caused by enlarged inferior turbinates, etc.

How is the procedure performed?

The surgery involves using a disposable electrode also called Somnus device that is heated between 158 and 176 degrees. This low level of radiofrequency thermal energy pierces the relevant sections of the tongue, throat or soft palate, depending on the site of obstruction. The heat only burns the tissues attached to the obstructive muscles without damaging the outer tissues. Subsequently, the body absorbs the scarred tissues in a period of 3 to 8 weeks. The procedure results in significant volume reduction of obstructive tissues.

Helpful in treating snoring and sleep apnea

Since the low frequency thermal energy not only burns the obstructive tissues, but also stiffens then, the tissue volume reduction provides significant relief to snoring.

Septal deviation causes obstruction in the nasal passage, which leads to snoring and subsequently sleep apnea. This procedure can, with the help of local or general anesthesia, reposition and rectify the septum correctly, in a matter of 30 to 45 minutes, with an extra time of 5 to 10 minutes for heat energy to be delivered. The insulating sleeve at the base of the single-use electrode protects all adjoining tissues from heat damages. This significantly reduces post-operative pain and discomfort.

Why should one prefer this over other surgeries?
One of the biggest benefits of this surgery is that it hardly requires any hospital stay, which is undoubtedly cost-saving. The operation is done at the outpatient clinic of the surgeon who usually advises only a nights' stay for monitoring purposes. The second compelling reason for is the quality of management of post-operative pain, discomfort and other complications.

The facilities where such surgeries are done are equipped with trained doctors and technicians who have the skill to maintain a steady low temperature during the entire procedure, to ensure maximum comfort for the patient. While this procedure also involves risks of inflammation, bleeding, etc., such post-operative consequences are quickly brought under control by a trained doctor with the help of relevant medication in a matter of a couple of days.

How to find doctors who can do this surgery?

Unfortunately, America has about 300 somnoplasty doctors who are trained and skilled to do this type of surgery. They are essentially ENT surgeons who are trained in the technology of radio frequency ablation.

The internet can be a helpful resource for locating these specialized surgeons. There are some sites that provide city-wise information on doctors who do somnoplasty surgery.

If you need more information about somnoplasty side effects, make sure to check Douglas Kidder's excellent free report on somnoplasty surgery.

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