Surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: upper airway and maxillomandibular surgery. Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society Won, C. H., Li, K. K., Guilleminault, C. 2008; 5 (2): 193-199


Upper airway surgery is an important treatment option for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), particularly for those who have failed or cannot tolerate positive airway pressure therapy. Surgery aims to reduce anatomical upper airway obstruction in the nose, oropharynx, and hypopharynx. Procedures addressing nasal obstruction include septoplasty, turbinectomy, and radiofrequency ablation (RF) of the turbinates. Surgical procedures to reduce soft palate redundancy include uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, uvulopalatal flap, laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, and RF of the soft palate with adenotonsillectomy. More significant, however, particularly in cases of severe OSA, is hypopharyngeal or retrolingual obstruction related to an enlarged tongue, or more commonly due to maxillomandibular deficiency. Surgeries in these cases are aimed at reducing the bulk of the tongue base or providing more space for the tongue in the oropharynx so as to limit posterior collapse during sleep. These procedures include genioglossal advancement, hyoid suspension, distraction osteogenesis, tongue RF, lingualplasty, and maxillomandibular advancement. Successful surgery depends on proper patient selection, proper procedure selection, and experience of the surgeon. Most surgeries are done in combination and in a multistep manner, with maxillomandibular advancement typically being reserved for refractory or severe OSA, or for those with obvious and significant maxillomandibular deficiency. Although not without risks and not as predictable as positive airway pressure therapy, surgery remains an important therapeutic consideration in all patients with OSA. Current research aims to optimize the success of these procedures by identifying proper candidates for surgery, as well as to develop new invasive procedures for OSA treatment.

View details for DOI 10.1513/pats.200708-121MG

View details for PubMedID 18250212