Partial Glossectomy (Tongue Base Reduction)
Enlargement of the back part of your tongue (called the tongue base) can lead to significant obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. When you sleep, the tissue in the back of your throat relaxes and can collapse to the point that you cannot breathe. As a result, you may wake many times during the night.
Partial glossectomy or tongue base reduction involves removing a portion of the back part of your tongue. This results in less tissue bulk to fall backwards to block your breathing. The airway in the back of your throat is opened, allowing for more comfortable sleeping at night.
What happens during surgery?
During the surgery, excess tissue at the back of your tongue is removed through a new technology called radio frequency ablation. Using low heat and ionic agitation, the size of the tongue is decreased. There are two ways to perform radiofrequency surgery – Coblation® and Somnoplasty®. Coblation® tends to be more effective. For more information on Coblation® go to http://www.arthrocareent.com/coblation_products.
The tongue base can also be reduced through a transoral robotic approach. This is a new technology that allows superior visualization of the tongue base. This gives the surgeon the ability to assess which area of the tongue can be reduced to minimize airway obstruction.
How effective is tongue base reduction?
This procedure is very effective. If performed on carefully selected individuals and combined with other procedures, the success rate can be as high as 60-70%.
What are the risks of this surgery?
There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Complications with tongue base reduction are very uncommon. Risks most commonly associated with this procedure are bleeding, infection, the possibility of no sleep apnea improvement, and taste disturbance or tongue numbness (usually temporary). Very rarely, there may be some trouble moving part of your tongue after this surgery.
What can I expect after surgery?
For this procedure:
- you will spend one night in the hospital and will most likely be able to go home the following morning
- be given a liquid pain medication, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory steroid pills to take following the surgery
- the absorbable stitches used by your physician will dissolve in about 3-4 weeks
- avoid eating foods that are very hot, spicy or have sharp edges (such as chips)
- cool liquids tend are usually well tolerated after this procedure
Where to go from here?Next Topic: Pillar® Implants
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