Patients with sleep apnea are frequently looking for an easy surgical procedure to treat their sleep apnea. Pillar surgery was intially considered to be a treatment for sleep apnea but has been relegated to a treatment for simple snoring coming from the soft palate.
PLACEMENT OF SOFT PALATE PILLARS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A PRIMARY TREATMENT FOR SLEEP APNEA!
A new study (PubMed abstract below)looked at Pillar Surgery to see if it increased compliance in CPAP users or decreased CPAP pressures. Sadly, this was not the case. The study published in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery concluded that "Pillar implants do not significantly reduce CPAP pressure or increase CPAP compliance compared to sham controls but may subjectively improve CPAP satisfaction. These findings do not presently support the use of Pillar implants as an adjunctive treatment to improve CPAP compliance."
I advise patients who are looking for a surgical "cure" for sleep apnea avoid pillar surgery. Surgical interventions that can "cure sleep apnea" are available. The most successful is bimaxillary advancement. Base of tongue reduction is also successful but I strongly recommend doing it with the somnoplasty method to avoid adverse surgical consequences.
For the severely obese CPAP and tracheotomy are the most successful treatments. Mild to moderate sleep apnea is best treated with CPAP or Oral Appliances.
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Feb;144(2):230-6. Epub 2010 Dec 29.
Effect of palatal implants on continuous positive airway pressure and compliance.
Gillespie MB, Wylie PE, Lee-Chiong T, Rapoport DM.
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425-5500, USA. email@example.com
Determine if the Pillar palatal implant system reduces continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) pressure and improves patient compliance with CPAP therapy.
Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Four geographically dispersed tertiary sleep disorder referral centers.
Subjects with mild to moderate sleep apnea dissatisfied with CPAP because of pressure-related complaints were randomized to receive Pillar implants or a sham procedure performed in double-blind fashion. Active and sham groups were compared for changes in therapeutic CPAP pressures (primary outcome) with a 90-day follow-up sleep study and CPAP compliance (secondary outcome) with a 90-day smart card report.
Twenty-six subjects were randomized to Pillar implants and 25 to a sham implant procedure. There were no differences between groups with regard to demographics and baseline parameters. Both sham and active groups had reduced mean CPAP pressure (-1.1 vs -0.5 cm H(2)O) with no difference between groups (P = .32) at 90-day follow-up. In addition, there was no difference in average daily CPAP use between groups (P = .80). Both groups experienced improvements in Epworth sleepiness scores and Functional Outcome of Sleep Questionnaire scores at 90 days with no differences between groups. The active group reported significantly higher CPAP satisfaction scores than the sham group (P = .04).
Pillar implants do not significantly reduce CPAP pressure or increase CPAP compliance compared to sham controls but may subjectively improve CPAP satisfaction. These findings do not presently support the use of Pillar implants as an adjunctive treatment to improve CPAP compliance.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]