Sleep Apnea
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Sleep Apnea and Radiofrequency Ablation

Effect of Radiofrequency Ablation on Sleep Apnea

This is a surgery for sleep apnea. An electrode that emits radio waves and heat is used to destroy excess tissue at the base of the tongue. This device is applied to the palate and the base of tongue. It works by shrinking tissue that blocks the airway, thereby widening it and enabling airflow. Most people notice decreased snoring and decreased daytime sleepiness after ten 20-minute treatments. This is effective for snoring but has not been shown to be effective in treatment of sleep apnea.1 Regardless, the effect of this treatment may improve satisfaction with sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness and other risks associated with sleep apnea.

It is one of a handful of options of surgery for sleep apnea.

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Read more details about Radiofrequency Ablation.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have ablation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Discomfort
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Infection
  • Lung collapse upon insertion of the probe (when the procedure involves the lung, liver, or upper kidney)
  • Blood clots or damage to heart muscle or conduction pathways after procedures on the heart
  • Liver abscess (small, localized collection of pus within a cavity left by the destroyed tissue)
  • Damage to tissue surrounding the target area

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Active infection

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.

References

1 Blumen, Marc et al. "Radiofrequency Ablation for the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea," The Laryngoscope 112, no 11 (2002): 2086-2092.

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