When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As many as 12 million people in the U.S. suffer from this condition, which can require surgical intervention when lifestyle changes and other treatment options fail.
In recent years, palate implants have been reported as an effective, minimally invasive and cost-effective treatment for patients who suffer from snoring, and there have been ongoing clinical studies of the efficacy of palatal implants to treat the palatal component of mild to moderate OSA.
In a new multi-center randomized, placebo-controlled study presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, researchers have demonstrated that palate implants are more effective than a placebo procedure for mild to moderate OSA with significantly less pain and morbidity than traditional palatal surgical procedures. This study included 100 selected patients with mild to moderate OSA. Patients were randomized into two groups - one group received three palatal implants and the other group underwent an identical procedure but without receiving implants. The results from this study report a statistically significant difference in several OSA outcome measures between pre-treatment and three months, favoring the palatal implant group over the placebo group.
The findings of the study suggest that a simple office-based procedure with minimal pain can significantly improve quality of life for patients with OSA. Recognizing that OSA patients generally have multi-level obstruction, the overall effectiveness of palatal implants alone to address OSA may be limited to those people with isolated retro-palatal obstruction.