Success rates for the surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) vary, with phase I surgical success ranging from 40 to 75%. Pharyngeal suspension suture procedures are minimally invasive techniques with a reported efficacy of 20 to 78%. We conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of pharyngeal suspension suture procedures in conjunction with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) as a multilevel treatment for OSA. We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 30 adults-22 men and 8 women, with a mean age of 49 years and a mean BMI of 30.6-who were treated at a tertiary care academic medical center and a private otolaryngology practice. All patients had moderate or severe OSA, and all had failed continuous positive airway pressure therapy. Of this group, 20 patients underwent tongue base and hyoid suspension (TBHS) and 10 underwent tongue base suspension (TBS) alone; 23 patients had undergone concurrent or previous UPPP, 13 in the TBHS group and all 10 in the TBS group. Polysomnography was performed an average of 3.9 months postoperatively. Surgical success was defined as a reduction in respiratory distress index (RDI) of more than 50% and a postoperative RDI of 20 or less. The overall surgical success rate was 63% (19/30). In the surgical success group, the mean RDI fell from 44.6 to 9.4 (p < 0.0001); in the surgical failure group, the mean RDI rose from 41.3 to 48.9 (p = 0.58). There were 6 complications: 3 seromas, 2 suture breaks, and 1 dislodged screw. We conclude that pharyngeal suspension suture procedures as part of the multilevel treatment of moderate and severe OSA yields better outcomes than conventional surgical treatments with the added benefit of being minimally invasive.
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