It wasn’t long ago that the majority of treatment for cardiovascular disease was very invasive open heart surgery. But with time and research, procedures for treating the heart, and most other diseases, have changed and adapted—all for the better. The key has been creating new techniques that are minimally invasive and less painful, with a quicker recovery, which makes for happier and healthier patients. And the same can be said about radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which can treat specific conditions of the heart along with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is a condition in which an individual, due to an obstruction of his or her airway, experiences pauses in breathing during a night of sleep. RFA is a procedure whereby small bursts of energy are directed toward tissue to produce a scar. Basically, this procedure jump-starts the body’s natural healing process, rejuvenating the treated area’s overall health. As a result, treated tissue shrinks in size. Using RFA on the tongue for OSA works by shrinking down the tongue so that it no longer falls back during sleep to block the individual’s airway.
Evolving History of Radiofrequency Ablation
In the past, specifically 10 years ago, RFA was used as a treatment for OSA but performed in the operating room at either a hospital or ambulatory surgery center. The radiofrequency energy was directed to the tongue all at one time under general anesthesia. The procedure helps the patient’s sleep apnea, however, the after effects of the treatment were not well-received. For the most part, it was too much treatment and one time. Patients had pain, swelling, discomfort and problems swallowing.
Within the last several years, the protocol to treat OSA with RFA has evolved and moved into an in-office setting. Performed at Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America (SATCOA), RFA of the tongue occurs over the course of several treatment sessions over several months. From the time a patient enters the office, it takes no more than 45 minutes, with in-chair RFA device treatment for about 5 minutes maximum. With each subsequent treatment, the tongue shrinks and the patient has fewer and fewer episodes where he or she stops breathing while sleeping.
All patients that have been treated with RFA at a SATCOA facility have seen a 100 percent improvement of their sleep apnea symptoms: less daytime sleepiness, better concentration and improved memory, and decreased risk for developing life-threatening illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Even better news is the fact that 73 percent of patients have their sleep apnea cured!
If you have sleep apnea and would like to learn more about RFA, we can help. Please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.