April 6, 1998
Volume 50, No. 27
Kingdom, DelGaudio introduce procedure to reduce snoring
Using a painless, new 10-minute outpatient procedure, Emory otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat specialists) Todd Kingdom and John DelGaudio are restoring a restful night's sleep to habitual snorers and their loved ones. The unique procedure, called Somnoplasty, reduces excess tissue under the soft palate by using a small electrode that emits very low levels of radiofrequency to heat the tissue without burning it.
In many habitual snorers the annoying noise is caused by excess tissue in the soft palate and uvula (the bit of tissue that protrudes from the top of the throat). This excess tissue often vibrates during sleep, causing the snoring sound.
During the Somnoplasty procedure, a technology licensed by Somnus Medical Technologies and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the physician applies a local anesthetic similar to that used in a dental procedure. A few minutes later, a small electrode is inserted into the soft palate. The electrode is connected to a radiofrequency generator that emits low-level energy-without causing discomfort to the patient-in a limited area around the electrode.
"The Somnoplasty procedure was developed to minimize the bleeding and pain associated with other tissue-removal techniques that relieve snoring," Kingdom explained. "It's really quite simple but very effective in many patients."
The procedure damages a small area of tissue under the soft palate and causes mild swelling and a sore throat, for which most patients take an over-the-counter pain reliever for one to three days. Over a period of three to six weeks, the treated tissue is naturally absorbed by the body and the amount of tissue is reduced. In addition, the treated area contracts and stiffens, lifting the uvula and reducing its tendency to vibrate and create a snoring sound.