New surgical procedure used to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Physicians at Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium, have successfully treated patients with obstructive sleep apnea with a novel surgical procedure.

The procedure involves the Advance System which consists of an implant in the tongue and lower jaw to prevent upper airway collapse during sleep. The preliminary results of this new procedure in the first 10 patients are promising.

Earlier this year, a team headed by ENT-surgeon Dr. Evert Hamans, performed the procedure successfully for the first time worldwide. This week the results of the follow-up examinations in the first 10 operated patients became available. A significant improvement of apnea index was achieved in all the patients. Snoring and daytime sleepiness were significantly reduced.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease where the upper airway collapses during sleep. This obstruction results in a shortage of oxygen and fragmentation of sleep. In Western-Europe and the USA, 4% of men and 2% of women suffer from OSA. Most common complaints include loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment. In some patients the sleepiness is pronounced and potentially dangerous as it could result in car-accidents Long term, these patients have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The current treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which includes the use of a ventilation mask during sleep. Although this treatment is effective, a number of patients find it intolerable and/or are non-compliant to this treatment. Some CPAP users seek alternative solutions.

Other surgical treatments for OSA can be highly invasive and have high morbidity rates requiring long hospital stay. The efficacy of these surgical treatments for moderate or severe OSA is also limited. A lot of patients are not willing to undergo such surgery.

The Advance procedure is short, has a low morbidity and currently requires one night of hospital stay. The innovative aspects of this new procedure include the ability to prevent the tongue from obstructing the upper airway, the ability to adjust the implant to the need of the patient under local anaesthesia and the low morbidity of the procedure.

Aspire Medical, an American medical device company specializing in the area of obstructive sleep apnea, chose Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium to refine and perform this novel procedure for the first time worldwide. The department of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) and the Sleep Center in this hospital have an international expertise in innovative research for surgical and non-surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. A team of pulmonologists, ENT-surgeons, psychiatrists and neurologists guarantee a multidisciplinary approach of complex sleep related breathing disorders that severely affect the quality of life of patients.

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