Somnoplasty procedure is one of the minor surgical solutions in treating sleep apnea. More than that, the procedure is also a solution to excessive snoring and nasal congestion. This is an outpatient procedure that could last less that an hour, wherein the patient is put under local anaesthesia. It has been gaining popularity due to its low level of pain factor as compared to other sleep apnea operations.
Somnoplasty procedure is one of the minor surgical solutions in treating sleep apnea. More than that, the procedure is also a solution to excessive snoring and nasal congestion. This is an outpatient procedure that could last less that an hour, wherein the patient is put under local anaesthesia. It has been gaining popularity due to its low level of pain factor as compared to other sleep apnea operations. Recovery period is short, patients don’t need hospital stay. Somnoplasty success rates are also showing good numbers.
In the actual somnoplasty procedure, the goal is to reduce the enlarged tissues that are blocking the airways. This is done through ablation or cutting of portions, or the excessive parts. This could be the uvula, the soft palate, the tongue or enlarged turbinates. During the operation, the patient will be given anaesthetics and as soon as it’s already in effect, a needle-like instrument called electrode will be inserted to the targeted tissue. This is in turn attached to a radiofrequency heat generator. Applying low intensity heat to the target tissues, the needle will burn the area. This will result to shrinking with the body absorbing the burnt parts. The procedure effectively reduces or eliminates the bulk of the tissues leaving wider airways.
Like any other procedures, there are also somnoplasty side effects. Here are some of the side effects that have been observed as an effect to somnoplasty procedure. Again, as the operation is relatively new, no authoritative trend of side effects or even somnoplasty success rates can be verified. Although the general consensus is of very high success rate, it would still depend on the severity of the obstruction. All listed have happened to one or more patient.
• Nasal regurgitation – This is the uncontrollable and sometimes incessant fluid presence in the nasal cavities. Flow usually happens when swallowing.
• Changed voice and sore throat – tone and pitch of voice could be affected.
• Electrical injury – Inappropriate application of the thermal or electrical heat could burn tissues other that the targeted. This may cause loss in the sense of smell and taste.
• Failure of the operation – The somnoplasty procedure wasn’t as effective as what is expected. The targeted tissues weren’t significantly reduced to affect the desired result. In this case, the patient still snores, breathing stoppages still occurs or still has congested nasals. Oftentimes, the resolution to failures of operation is to conduct another session.
• Bleeding and prolonged healing due to infection – The operated area is quite sensitive considering that we continue to breathe, eat, swallow and talk regardless of any operation. Thus, the healing process could be prolonged. This is especially hard if the patient has a severe case of obstructive sleep apnea. Prolonged healing also translates to prolonged pain.
These are just the recorded somnoplasty side effects. Although these rarely happen, there is still the possibility of it happening. It is common for the somnoplasty procedure to be repeated in several sessions until the desired results are achieved, thus patients are required to periodically return for checkups and assessment.