Radiofrequency surgery for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: short-term and long-term results

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Dec;141(6):722-6. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2009.09.028.


Objective: To compare the short-term and long-term results in patients undergoing radiofrequency (RF) for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Study design: Case series and planned data collection.

Setting: Tertiary referral center.

Subjects and methods: A study was undertaken on 72 OSA patients with palatal and tongue base obstruction based on radiography and physical findings. Multilevel RF was conducted to reduce the tissue.

Results: Patients had a mean age of 35.8 +/- 10.9 years and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 28.8 +/- 2.4 kg/m(2). The mean follow-up was 14.2 +/- 1.8 months, with a range of 12 to 16 months. Mean baseline apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), short-term AHI, and long-term AHI were 35.6 +/- 9.2, 12.5 +/- 4.8, and 16.8 +/- 3.2, respectively. Mean baseline lowest oxygen saturation (LSAT), short-term LSAT, and long-term LSAT were 85.6 +/- 3.4 percent, 88.7 +/- 2.9 percent, and 88.2 +/- 1.7 percent, respectively. The change in BMI was significantly different in the patients with and without recurrence (2.8 +/- 1.8 vs 0.3 +/- 0.2 kg/m(2), P < 0.01). Forty (55.6%) patients had long-term success, and eight (16.7%) patients with short-term success failed in the long term. Serious complications were not encountered.

Conclusion: RF is a minimally invasive and effective procedure that results in long-term success for patients with a relatively low BMI and mild to moderate OSA without nasal obstruction. However, a recommendation concerning weight control and a regular follow-up are important because some patients will relapse in the long term.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome