Transoral robotic glossectomy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 May;146(5):854-62. doi: 10.1177/0194599811434262. Epub 2012 Jan 13.


Objective: In previous reports of transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS), patients underwent routine tracheotomy. We aim to assess the feasibility of performing robotically assisted partial glossectomy without tracheotomy and to assess efficacy by comparing OSAHS outcomes with those of established techniques.

Study design: Historical cohort study with planned data collection.

Setting: Tertiary care center.

Subjects and methods: Forty consecutive patients underwent TORS for OSAHS between October 2010 and June 2011 and were followed up with regard to complications, morbidity, and subjective and objective outcomes. Data from 27 of these patients who underwent concomitant z-palatoplasty with 6-month follow-up were compared with those of 2 matched cohorts of patients, who underwent either radiofrequency (radiofrequency base-of-tongue reduction [RFBOT]) or coblation (submucosal minimally invasive lingual excision [SMILE]) reduction of the tongue base and z-palatoplasty.

Results: No major bleeding or airway complications were observed. Postoperative pain and length of admission were similar between groups. All groups saw Epworth score and snore score improvement. Patients undergoing robot-assisted surgery took longer than their SMILE and RFBOT counterparts to tolerate normal diet and longer than RFBOT patients to resume normal activity. Apnea hypopnea index (AHI) reduction averaged 60.5% ± 24.9% for TORS versus 37.0% ± 51.6% (P = .042) and 32.0% ± 43.3% (P = .012) for SMILE and RFBOT, respectively. Only the robotic group achieved statistically significant improvement in minimum oxygen saturation. Surgical cure rate for TORS (66.7%) was significant compared with RFBOT (20.8%, P = .001) but not compared with SMILE (45.5%, P = .135).

Conclusion: Robotically assisted partial glossectomy feasibly can be performed without the need for tracheotomy. This technique resulted in greater AHI reduction but increased morbidity compared with the other techniques studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catheter Ablation / methods
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Glossectomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palate, Soft / surgery
  • Polysomnography
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotics*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Tongue / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome