Public Release:  Benefits from upper airway surgery for sleep apnea found to equal CPAP

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Alexandria, VA - Adults who struggle with CPAP treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) should be considered candidates for reconstructive surgery on the upper airway, because it holds the same quality-of-life (QOL) benefits but with more permanence. This thesis is in new research published in the August 2009 edition of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a highly effective means for treating obstructive sleep apnea, but because it involves a mask and set of hoses, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable for some patients, and compliance may be short-lived.

The Australian authors of the study discovered that among moderate-to-severe OSA-suffering patients, those treated through upper airway surgery experienced the same level of long-term quality-of-life improvement as their peers who were treated with CPAP therapy. Among the QOL benefits were improvements in snoring, sleepiness, and neurocognitive impairment. In contrast, those patients who were prescribed, but did not adequately use CPAP, had minimal QOL improvement.

The upper airway includes nose and throat (pharyngeal) areas, particularly behind the soft palate and tongue. Reconstructive surgery to treat sleep apnea involves clearing any blockages in those areas that might be hindering breathing.

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Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery is the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) and the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA). The study's authors are Sam Robinson, MB, BS, FRACS; Michael Chia, MB, BS, FRACP; A. Simon Carney, MB, ChB, MD, FRCS, FRACS; Sharad Chawla, MB, BS, MS (ENT); Penelope Harris, BSc (Hons); and Adrian Esterman, PhD, MSc, BSc (hons), DLSHTM.

Reporters who wish to obtain a copy of both articles should contact Matt Daigle at 1-703-535-3754, or at newsroom@entnet.org.

About the AAO-HNS

The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents nearly 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization's vision: "Empowering otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to deliver the best patient care."

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