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Types of Sleep Apnea Surgery Commonly Performed by ENTs

Types of Sleep Apnea Surgery Commonly Performed by ENTs

When you think of treatment for sleep apnea, you might not think of seeing an ENT.

However ENTs are uniquely trained and qualified to treat sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when you can’t breathe properly while sleeping. Many times this condition is caused by obstructions from the nose and throat. It only makes sense to see a doctor that specializes in conditions of the nose and throat!

Sleep apnea surgery to remove nasal obstructions

Many people have obstructions that prevent proper nasal breathing and they don’t even realize it. The first step in treating the sleep apnea will be to make sure that you can breathe properly through your nose. The ENT will perform a physical examination of your nose and nasal passages. In addition an endoscope may be used to get a real time view of the interior of your nose and sinuses or imaging tests may be ordered. Once the ENT has identified the source of the obstruction, surgery can often times correct it. Common sleep apnea surgeries include:

  • Septoplasty. Your nose is divided into two nostrils by the septum. The septum should be straight. However, as a result of injury, congenital defect or aging the septum can become crooked or “deviated.” This can restrict airflow making it difficult to breathe. Breathing while in a reclined position or while sleeping on your side is made difficult if the septum is not straight. Septoplasty can correct the septum and restore it to the proper position allowing you to breathe freely through your nose.
  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery. This form of surgery is also referred to as FESS. It is minimally invasive, has a shorter recovery time than conventional sinus surgery and is highly effective in removing and correcting blockages in the sinuses. Nasal and sinus polyps can be removed with this procedure. Once nasal breathing is restored, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices will be more easily tolerated.
  • Balloon Sinuplasty. This procedure is perfect for mild obstructions. It can be performed in the ENTs office under local anesthesia and recover time is minimal. If obstruction is caused by narrowing of the nasal or sinus passages a balloon sinus surgery may be the only sleep apnea surgery you need. A small balloon type of device is inserted into the nasal passage with an endoscope. It is inflated to open the passage and clear obstruction.
  • Turbinoplasty. Turbinates are structures made of bone and soft tissue located on the inside of the nose. Their job is to warm and humidify the air you breathe. But sometimes the space between the septum and the turbinates is so small that it’s hard for air to get through. The turbinate can have an overgrowth of bone or tissue. Either way, it makes it difficult to breathe through the nose. Turbinoplasty removes a portion of the turbinate to restore proper nasal breathing.

The goal of each of these sleep apnea surgeries is to remove obstructions and restore proper nasal breathing. This may be the only treatment you need to correct your sleep apnea.

If further treatment with CPAP devices or oral devices is necessary, they will work much more effectively if nasal obstructions have first been removed.

See the ENT for sleep apnea evaluation

If you are having problems with sleeping or snoring or if you suspect you have sleep apnea contact your ENT for an evaluation. They can identify the cause of the obstructions and recommend a course of treatment to get you the rest you need.


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