Somnoplasty and Coblation --
More generically known as Radio Frequency Tissue Reduction (RFTR) or Radio Frequency Ablation -- are new methods of treating snoring. Both use radio waves to shrink excess soft tissue of the soft palate with little patient discomfort.
Somnoplasty, approved for treatment of snoring in 1997, involves piercing the tongue, throat or soft palate with a needle connected to a radio frequency generator. The inner tissue is then heated to 158 to 176 degrees. The inner tissues shrink, but the outer tissues, which contain your taste buds, are left intact.
How it works:
Somnoplasty uses low-power, low-temperature radiofrequency energy to treat part of the uvula or soft palate. The procedure takes place under local anesthesia, and typically takes less than thirty minutes. Radiofrequency energy is delivered beneath the surface layer of the soft palate, destroying the cells there. Over the next four to six weeks the treated tissue is naturally absorbed by the body, reducing the volume, and stiffening the area responsible for your snoring. For some patients, depending on their level of snoring after 6-8 weeks, a second somnoplasty procedure may be needed.
Does it hurt?
A lot less than laser or surgical treatments, although you'll notice some swelling and discomfort for a few days following the procedure.
The jury is still out over long term effectiveness of somnoplasty as a snoring cure, but early results are encouraging, but clearly show that the procedure will not work for everyone. The manufacturer's brochure claims that 13 somnoplasty treatments were shown to:
• Deliver a 85.3% success rate for up to two Somnoplasty treatment sessions
• Reduce mean snoring index 60.6%
• Reduce mean Epworth Sleepiness Score
More recently (November 2002), a French study of 29 patients who had a maximum of three radio frequency ablation sessions showed that mean snoring level decreased significantly from 8.6 +/- 1.3 to 3.3 +/- 2.5 on a visual analogue scale (0-10). Daytime sleepiness decreased nonsignificantly.
health insurance company Aetna
reviewed the literature in 2004, concluding that the
treatment is still in its investigational phase, and
besides, "Aetna considers RFVTR of
turbinates for snoring not medically necessary."
(Which should be read as "we will not pay for this
Somnoplasty for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
RFTR may also be effective in treating apnea, according to the Somnoplasty website.
Somnus Corporation, the developer of this procedure and manufacturer of somnoplasty equipment, was
subsequently acquired by the
Gyrus Group, which formed an ENT division to market
the Somnus products.
Click here for other surgical approaches to snoring.
Tell us your experience with somnoplasty or coblation and see what others have to say, by contributing to the PutanEndtoSnoring forum.