Tongue Surgery

In moderate or severe sleep apnoea, the tongue may fall back to block the air passage. Whilst nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) is the initially recommended treatment for moderate or severe sleep apnoea, not all patients are able to cope with the requirement to sleep with such a device for the rest of their lives. Under these circumstances, tongue surgery may be indicated as the second line of treatment. In certain cases with markedly disproportionate anatomy of the tongue and jaw, an earlier consideration of surgery may be required.

The surgery of the tongue has in the past been more extensive and has risked the potential of significant post-operative tissue swelling and initial airway blockage. The development of new techniques of radiowave thermal ablation of the back of the tongue are currently being explored. See http://www.somnus.com/som/osaproc.htm for details of this procedure.

Other new techniques of treating the tongue involve inserting a sling through the tongue and attaching this sling to the front of the jawbone to draw the tongue forward and thus maintain a clear air passage. Seejaw surgery.

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