Surgical sleep medicine

The use of radio frequency technology as a minimally-invasive procedure has been a specialisation of ours for years. This involves the use of a particularly tissue-conserving alternative to the standard operation and to the laser application. This modern surgical procedure is very gentle on the tissue (small wound area) and the wound heals quickly. Applied by a specialist, this innovative technique is a precise and elegant procedure which is extremely efficient and has outstanding success rates. This gentle operation is both time-saving and cost effective, as it requires no long hospital stays and the patient recovers quickly.

Soft palate

During waking hours, the complete throat area is under muscular tension and is open wide. During sleep however, the tissue relaxes and goes limp. Since the lungs create a slight vacuum in the respiratory tract on each inhalation, the limp tissue is further contracted by the vacuum air flow and narrows the respiratory tract even more. Turbulence occurs at the narrow points, which in turn leads to vibrations. These vibrations can be heard as the typical “snoring” sound. The effect is similar to that of a curtain blowing in the wind in front of an open window.

In minimally invasive RFITT (“Radio Frequency-Induced Interstitial Thermotherapy”), the soft palate is gently tightened without removing tissue or damaging the mucous membrane. A fine probe is inserted into the soft gums and the soft palate. This is used to supply dosed radio frequency energy. The tissue is “moistened” in the process and a scar is formed. Thus, the volume is reduced and the gums are tightened. At the same time, the soft palate may be reduced or the tongue base and nasal concha made smaller. By using a special probe in a target manner, it is possible to insert scars in exact locations deep in the tissue. This brings about a shrinking effect and therefore a tightening or a reduction in volume.

Uvula hyperplasia (“oversized uvula”)

A oversized and swollen uvula hinders the airflow in the upper respiratory tract and is a partial cause of the vibration noises. The resultant narrowed air passage can often be detected even in the waking state.

In RAUP (radio frequency-assisted uvula palatoplasty), the surplus mucous membrane tissues on the soft palate, which have the effect of a web and cause the snoring sound during sleep, are removed with no bleeding or local burning. This is because the uvula must be intact for the swallowing mechanism to be in working order. In this minimally invasive method, the radio frequency energy is dosed optimally using electrodes as fine as hairs, enabling the tissue to be removed in a targeted manner. As a result, the tissue tightens and the uvula is lifted. Fluttering movements can be reduced to a minimum and the air flows through the throat area again with low noise and no obstruction. 

Tongue base hyperplasia (“oversized tongue base”)

An oversized tongue base can be found in about 60% of snorers and 100% of people with sleep apnoea. It is assumed that in sleep apnoea sufferers, after the shortness of breath phases, gastric acid is sucked up into the mouth and this reflux is the reason for a reactive change of the tongue base tissue over the long term.

In minimally invasive RFITT (“Radio Frequency-Induced Interstitial Thermotherapy”), the excess tissue at the tongue base is punctured using a small electrode. This changes the cell protein, it “coagulates”. The tissue is not removed using a scalpel or a laser. Instead, it is left intact. Only the treated areas are removed step-by-step in a natural manner. The medical term for this is “tissue volume reduction”. This intervention at the tongue base is one of the most demanding and effective in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnoea and requires a maximum of experience in the specialist. In the process, the mucous membrane in the throat and vocal cords are handled with the utmost care!