What is OSA?
OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, most often when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. For those with sleep apnea, the brain briefly wakes them throughout their sleep so that they resume breathing. However, as a result sleep quality is poor and unrestful, resulting in daytime fatigue and many other problems.
OSA affects over 18 million people in the United States.
For patients with OSA the impact on quality of life and associated health problems are tremendous. Studies have shown that the risk of heart attack, stroke and death are significantly greater in patients with untreated OSA. Other common illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation and sexual dysfunction are also closely linked to OSA.
Watch Discover Remarkable: At the Heart of Medicine's episode about Sleep Apnea.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients with OSA typically suffer from:
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty with concentration
- Short term memory loss
- Restless sleep
- Disruptive snoring
Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) The standard for treatment of OSA is to wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask, which forces air into the nose and mouth to overcome the obstruction in the airway. Unfortunately, many individuals find it difficult to sleep with a CPAP mask on and do not comply with the treatment. For those unable to tolerate the CPAP, alternatives are limited to weight loss, oral appliances or surgery.
TORS allows doctors to preform surgery through the mouth to remove the obstruction from a patient’s mouth, tongue or throat. With the use of the daVinci robotic surgery system surgeons are able to reach further back into the oral cavity and throat than ever before, giving patients a new option.
Is TORS Right for You?
The first step to identifying obstructive sleep apnea is through a sleep study ordered by your physician. Sleep studies are preformed in a comfortable overnight facility called a sleep lab or sleep center where certified specialists will monitor your sleeping habits to identify any problems. In some cases unmonitored home sleep studies are also available.
For patients considering alternatives to CPAP your doctor may order a sleep endoscopy. A sleep endoscopy is a brief noninvasive procedure where you will be given a sedative to put you to sleep. Once asleep the doctor will insert a small scope in to your nose and throat to evaluate the airway during sleep and map the sites of obstruction to plan for robotic surgery.
For more information on sleep apnea treatments or robotic surgery for sleep apnea, call 855-SJ-ROBOT.