Radiofrequency of the soft palate for sleep-disordered breathing: a 6-year follow-up study

Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2014 Feb;131(1):27-31. doi: 10.1016/j.anorl.2013.04.005. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


Objective: To determine the long-term (>3 years) outcome of patients suffering from simple snoring or non-severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) treated by radiofrequency ablation of the soft palate.

Study design: Observational retrospective study.

Setting: Tertiary care university hospital.

Subjects and methods: Seventy-seven subjects were included between 1999 and 2006. Twenty-seven suffered from mild or moderate OSAS. All patients were treated by radiofrequency-assisted stiffening of the soft palate, with or without uvulectomy. Snoring (assessed on a 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS)), marital status, presence of cardiovascular risk factors or pathologies and follow-up time were evaluated by postal questionnaire.

Results: Mean follow-up time was 6.3 ± 2.3 years. Mean snoring intensity decreased significantly in the immediate postoperative period (8.1 ± 2.9 to 3.5 ± 2.2 cm on VAS). Over the longer term, however, we observed a significant increase in snoring intensity (5.7 ± 2.9 cm), which nevertheless remained below the preoperative values (P<0.001). Bed-partners noticed a relapse of snoring in 92.7% of cases. Nine percent of couples separated. Hypertension and diabetes were diagnosed during follow-up in 12.1% and 6.6% of the subjects, respectively. A majority of patients failed to undergo repeat polysomnography or further treatment.

Conclusion: Relapse of snoring was observed in nearly all patients in the long run, although intensity appears to remain lower than preoperatively. Most patients did not comply with the follow-up instructions and did not seek other forms of treatment when recurrence occurred.

Keywords: Long term; Radiofrequency; Sleep apnea syndrome; Snoring; Soft palate; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques / methods*
  • Electrosurgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palate, Soft / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Snoring / etiology
  • Snoring / surgery*
  • Time Factors