Obstructive Sleep Apnea

People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears and the flow of air starts again–usually with a loud gasp. Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals usually suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration and depression. Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.

The first step in treatment requires recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical treatment. Dr. Shannon and Dr. Hunter are well trained in treatment options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. To schedule your OSA consultation our doctors, we invite you to call Northeast Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center. In addition to a detailed history, our doctors assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, they can ascertain the level of obstruction. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a “sleep study” may be recommended in order to monitor a patient overnight.

There are several treatment options available. One initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One of the surgical options is a Uvulo-Palato-Pharyngo-Plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with a laser and is called a Laser Assisted Uvulo-Palato-Plasty (LAUPP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures are usually performed under light IV sedation in the office.

In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires an overnight stay in the hospital.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment of this problem. Dr. Shannon and Dr. Hunter actively participate on a multidisciplinary Sleep Apnea team. This team of professionals meets regularly to determine the treatment plan for each patient and work together to best resolve each patient’s medical issues.