Does Frenotomy Modify Upper Airway Collapse in OSA Adult Patients? Case Report and Systematic Review

J Clin Med. 2022 Dec 27;12(1):201. doi: 10.3390/jcm12010201.


Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) is a condition of the oral cavity in which an abnormally short lingual frenulum affects the tongue's mobility. Literature on the correlation between ankyloglossia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is scarce. The main objective of this study was to report our preliminary experience in adult OSA patients before and after ankyloglossia treatment, using drug-induced sleep endoscopy (DISE) to evaluate the upper airway modifications resulting after treatment, and to present a systematic review of the impact of ankyloglossia and its treatment on OSA adults. We found that, after frenotomy, regarding the DISE findings, and according to the VOTE classification, two of the three patients showed an improvement in tongue level, from 2A-P (complete anteroposterior collapse) to 1ap (partial anteroposterior collapse). The third patient showed no changes in his UA after frenotomy, neither worsening nor showing improvement. Thus, the results of this study suggest that frenotomy in OSA patients with ankyloglossia could reduce tongue collapse, probably by allowing the tongue to take into the physiological position in the oral cavity. These patients should undergo speech therapy and oropharyngeal exercises prior to any surgical procedure, in order to avoid glossoptosis and to improve the quality of life and sleep apnea results.

Keywords: Iowa oral performance instrument (IOPI); frenotomy; frenulum; myofunctional therapy; obstructive sleep apnea; tongue-tie.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.