Objective: To determine whether combined transoral robotic surgery and postoperative oropharyngeal rehabilitation are effective for reducing the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.
Study design: A quasi-experimental study enrolled participants without blinding between May 2019 and April 2021.
Setting: Single-center study at National Cheng Kung University Hospital.
Methods: Patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who were otherwise healthy were recruited from the ear, nose, and throat department at National Cheng Kung University Hospital. The group undergoing transoral robotic surgery with oropharyngeal rehabilitation (n = 18) received a 12-week intervention consisting of home-based rehabilitation exercises following surgery; the transoral robotic surgery group (n = 17) received surgery only; and the control group (n = 15) received conservative treatment, such as continuous positive airway pressure therapy or other oral appliance therapy. Polysomnography data and tongue muscle performance were measured before and after the interventions.
Results: The group that underwent transoral robotic surgery with oropharyngeal rehabilitation exhibited significantly improved tongue protrusion strength as compared with the transoral robotic surgery-only group, as well as significantly improved apnea-hypopnea index in the supine position vs the control group.
Conclusion: In this study, we demonstrated the synergistic effects of transoral robotic surgery and postoperative oropharyngeal rehabilitation for adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Objective records should be used to monitor home-based rehabilitation exercises and examine the lasting synergistic effects.
Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea; oropharyngeal rehabilitation; tongue protrusion strength; transoral robotic surgery.