I do predominantly the line share of sleep apnea surgery in our department. I collaborate closely with the pulmonologists, who are the sleep medicine doctors. Those are the doctors that help diagnose and treat sleep apnea, as well. If those patients fail their, their medical or their conservative therapy, that’s typically when they get sent to see me for surgical considerations to, to look at potential cures for their apnea. It’s not uncommon for me to see a lot of patients for, who come in for snoring complaints and, you know, are wondering whether or not they have sleep apnea. So sleep apnea is condition where you actually stop breathing at night. Snoring is somewhere on that spectrum, towards the more mild, you know, milder end of that spectrum. But, you know, really the only way to determine if you have sleep apnea, the gold standard of testing, is really getting a sleep study.
And that’s an overnight, monitored study where patients, you know, sleep in a room that’s similar to a hotel room but they’re being monitored and they’re hooked up, you know, for sound so to speak with different monitors and cables on them. And that’s really our best test to diagnose sleep apnea. The treatment for sleep apnea is typically a nonsurgical therapy; something called CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. And it’s the patients that don’t tolerate their CPAP who end up seeing me for surgical considerations. And there’s a number of reasons why patients may not tolerate their CPAP. But there are some surgeries that can be helpful in patients who are not tolerant of their medical therapy. And I offer a variety of surgeries including nasal surgery, a variety of palatal surgeries for the kind of tonsil and soft pallet region and then also a variety of tongue-based procedures, as well.
But we typically see a patient back after their procedure in about three weeks to recheck everything, make sure that they’re healing okay. After that, I normally recheck a sleep study in about three months after their surgery, just to give everything a chance to heal and to scar. And we, you know, make further recommendations based on the result of their follow-up sleep study after their surgery. We’re exploring the, a new technology now which is actually a nerve stimulator for sleep apnea. It’s an implantable device, very similar to a pacemaker that goes into the patient’s chest. And there’s an electrode that will actually stimulate the nerve that goes to the tongue to provide the tongue with a little bit of more tone when they’re sleeping at night, and thereby eliminating their sleep apnea.
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