Tongue base reduction with hyoepiglottoplasty: a treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea

Laryngoscope. 1999 Aug;109(8):1273-80. doi: 10.1097/00005537-199908000-00017.


Objective: To describe a surgical procedure for the treatment of severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), the procedure's indications, and its results.

Study design: A retrospective study of 10 male patients with OSAS treated by tongue base reduction with hyoepiglottoplasty (TBRHE) at the Foch Hospital (Suresnes, France) between 1994 and 1997. Patients had a mean body mass index (BMI) of 32 kg/m2, a mean respiratory disturbance index (RDI) of 70 events/h, and a mean minimal oxygen saturation of 78%. They had refused positive airway pressure therapy or wished to discontinue it.

Methods: Subtotal tongue base reduction preceded by lingual neurovascular bundle identification and derouting, epiglottal verticalization, mouth floor horizontalization, and hyoid bone repositioning was performed, associated in some cases to uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Indications were based on a site-related obstruction, on the absence of craniofacial deficiencies, and on the presence of hyolingual abnormalities determined by cephalometry and magnetic resonance imaging.

Results: TBRHE associated to UPPP in most cases had an 80% success rate, based on a postoperative RDI below 20 events/h and a reduction of the preoperative RDI of more than 50%. Snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness decreased or disappeared, respectively, in 100% and 90% of the cases. No neurovascular complications occurred.

Conclusion: TBRHE is a safe procedure for the neurovascular bundle. Associated to a pharyngotomy, it is an effective treatment for severe OSAS attributable to tongue base obstruction. These results require confirmation in a larger series of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epiglottis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyoid Bone / abnormalities
  • Hyoid Bone / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mouth Floor / surgery
  • Palate / surgery
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods
  • Postoperative Care
  • Preoperative Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Tongue / abnormalities
  • Tongue / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uvula / surgery