Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are at risk for a number of health problems. Snoring and daytime fatigue are just the tip of the iceberg; more serious complications such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and diabetes can occur, making the need for treatment a top priority. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) works for many patients, but some cannot tolerate the equipment and require an alternative approach. Base of tongue ablation offers an effective, long-term solution for many.
Base of tongue ablation, also known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which small amounts of targeted energy are directed at the base of the tongue or palate in order to tighten and reduce tissue. This prevents the tongue from blocking the airway during sleep, a frequent cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Normally an outpatient procedure, the surgery is quick—usually lasting no longer than three minutes—and requires no more than a local anesthetic. Patients who undergo RFA report less postsurgical pain and a faster recovery period compared with other surgeries used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Following the base of tongue ablation, the patient will have less daytime sleepiness, a reduced risk of health complications such as heart disease and stroke, and improved memory and concentration. Their risk of being involved in an automobile accident drops, as well. RFA is an effective alternative to CPAP for patients with mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea, with many studies showing no discernible difference in improvement rates between both treatment approaches. If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and cannot tolerate CPAP therapy or prefer a less-invasive solution, a base of tongue ablation may be just the option you are looking for.