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Laryngoscope. 2001 Mar;111(3):464-71.

Sleep-disordered breathing: radiofrequency thermal ablation is a promising new treatment possibility.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Haartmaninkatu 4 E, Post Office Box 220, 00290 Helsinki, Finland.



The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and morbidity of radiofrequency thermal ablation of the soft palate in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing.


Prospective, nonrandomized study. Outpatient treatment and an extended follow-up time of 12 months.


Twenty-one healthy men who were 18 to 60 years of age (median age, 44 y) with sleep-disordered breathing were enrolled to the study. All the patients had habitual snoring for at least 1 year that was associated with excessive daytime sleepiness interfering with social or professional activities. Radiofrequency energy was delivered to the soft palate in two treatment sessions separated by 1 week at 460 +/- 1 kHz with an energy delivery of 600 and 300 J. Snoring Score, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and cephalometric analysis were measured preoperatively and postoperatively. Certain inflammatory laboratory parameters and visual analogue scale scores of symptoms were measured related to the procedure.


The changes in Snoring Score and Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores were statistically significant. The change in the length of the soft palate was statistically significant, whereas the change in palatal width was not. There were no notable changes in the laboratory parameters. The symptom visual analogue scores were low and transient, resolving within days.


The radiofrequency thermal ablation of the soft palate in patients with sleep-disordered breathing seems to be effective. It is safe and associated with only a low morbidity. The promising results must be confirmed in a placebo-controlled study with a larger sample size and a long-term follow-up.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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