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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Jul;129(1):37-42.

An adjunctive method of radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction of the tongue for OSAS.

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Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center, USA.



Temperature-controlled radiofrequency volumetric reduction (TCRF), a minimally invasive procedure, has been used to treat tongue base obstruction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS). An adjunctive method was objectively evaluated.


A prospective, nonrandomized clinical study was undertaken on 20 consecutive OSAS patients with isolated tongue base obstruction. Under local anesthesia, multiple lesions of the ventral tongue (genioglossus insertion) and dorsal tongue were given at each treatment session. A visual analog scale was used to assess changes in speech and swallowing. Polysomnography and Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) were used to assess outcome. Patients were maintained on nasal continuous positive airway pressure after each treatment.


Patients received a mean 4.6 +/- 0.6 treatments for a mean total of 7915 +/- 1152 joules. There was no significant change in speech or swallowing at 3 months after completion of treatment. Patients reported a significant decrease in sleepiness with a mean change in ESS from 12.4 +/- 2.9 to 7.3 +/- 3.0 (P < 0.001). Mean apnea/hypopnea index decreased from 35.1 +/- 18.1 to 15.1 +/- 17.4 (P < 0.001). Transient mild to moderate pain and swelling occurred after each treatment. There were no significant complications (ulceration, paresthesia, infection).


TCRF can successfully treat the OSAS patient with tongue base obstruction. Combined treatment of the ventral (genioglossus insertion) and dorsal tongue appears safe and may improve outcome with less total energy when compared with traditional dorsal-only applications.

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