Radiofrequency Ablation

About Radiofrequency Ablation

Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring may be helped with a highly advanced and minimally-invasive procedure known as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of the tongue. RFA is an alternative to many sleep apnea patients using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask and equipment.

In the RFA procedure, low levels of targeted energy are directed to the base of the tongue in the back of the throat. As healing of that soft palate area takes place, the tissue tightens and shrinks. This helps prevent the tongue from relaxing into the back of the throat while sleeping, blocking the flow of air, or causing the loud vibration of the soft palate, causing snoring.

Our National Sinus Institute surgeons can complete this procedure using a local anesthesia in the office in less than an hour. Patients are able to return to work or drive themselves following an RFA procedure. Patients may have a sore throat for a few days and over-the-counter pain medications may be helpful. Depending on the level of sleep apnea and the respiratory disturbance index recorded during a sleep study, some patients’ treatment protocol should include several RFA procedures.

Studies comparing the use of RFA to traditional CPAP treatment have shown that for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, the RFA procedure provided equally effective treatment to relieve the daytime sleepiness of sleep apnea. In another study of snorers, nearly 75% of the patients who had an RFA procedure were still satisfied with the outcome three years later. Patients with excessive snoring may also benefit from an ululevtomy to reduce the soft tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) may also be considered for sleep apnea or snoring treatment in some patients. This procedure addresses the vibration or collapse of the soft palate in the roof of the mouth.