Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Although the patient is maintaining a continued respiratory effort, there is no airflow due to blockage of the airway. This may be due to nasal obstruction, large tonsils, an enlarged tongue, or excessive redundant throat tissues that collapse during sleep. OSAS is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition with many negative health consequences. The symptoms of sleep apnea include poor sleep, persistent daytime fatigue, morning headaches, and trouble with concentration. OSAS can lead to functional impairment that is comparable to a legally intoxicated individual. More serious medical problems which are associated with OSAS include hypertension, heart disease, ADD/ADHD, stoke, heart failure, and even sudden cardiac death.
A multi-disciplinary approach is recommended for the treatment of OSAS. This involves a polysomnogram (sleep study), and evaluation by a sleep medicine physician, a primary care physician, and an Otolaryngologist. Treatment may be medical or surgical. The medical options for OSAS include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or an oral appliance. CPAP is a device that is worn over the nose or mouth, and it generates enough airflow to prevent the upper airway from collapsing.
We perform several different types of upper airway surgery for OSAS including: nasal surgery (septoplasty), tonsillectomy, palatal surgery (uvulopalatal flap or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty), tongue advancement surgery (repose or genioglossus advancement), and pharyngeal widening surgery (repose hyoid suspension or modified hyoid suspension). Occasionally, tracheostomy is indicated for severe, life-threatening cases.