Sleep Disorders

01 February 2011

Surgery helps stop drowsiness from sleep apnoea

Daytime sleepiness, a common complaint of people with obstructive sleep apnoea, improves greatly after surgery for the disorder, according to a new study.

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Daytime sleepiness, a common complaint of people with obstructive sleep apnoea, improves greatly after surgery for the disorder, according to a new study.

Sleep apnoea occurs when the airway becomes partially or completely blocked in short spurts, causing pauses in breathing that usually last a few seconds but can occur 30 times or more an hour, disrupting sleep. The most common treatment for adults is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which uses a machine to increase air pressure in the throat to keep the airway open. But surgery to open the airway is another option.

The study, by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, involved 40 people who had one of the three types of surgery used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea: uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (removal of excess tissue in the throat), tonsillectomy or radiofrequency ablation of the base of the tongue.

Sleepiness and sleep apnoea

Before their surgery, all of the study participants reported being very sleepy during the day. After surgery, however, ratings on standardised scales revealed that daytime sleepiness was greatly reduced in 38 of them. In addition, the participants experienced, on average, a 50% reduction in nighttime sleep interruptions, the study reported.

"This study validates what patients have told us regarding their improved alertness after surgery," said Dr Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, a study co-author who chairs the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

The findings were presented at a recent Triological Society meeting in Arizona. Experts note that research presented at meetings is not subjected to the same scrutiny given research published in medical journals.


(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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