Efficacy of Coblation Endoscopic Lingual Lightening in Multilevel Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Multilevel obstruction is involved in the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Coblation endoscopic lingual lightening (CELL) is a variation of glossectomy to reduce tongue collapse and can be considered in the surgical management of adults with OSA.


To evaluate the clinical and polysomnographic outcomes of tongue base reduction using CELL in multilevel surgery for OSA.


A retrospective case-control study was performed to review the medical records of adults with OSA (apnea-hypopnea index [AHI], >20) and Friedman stage III (tongue position III and tonsil size I-II) who underwent combined CELL and relocation pharyngoplasty (group 1) or relocation pharyngoplasty alone (group 2) for OSA between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2013, at a tertiary referral sleep center. The groups were matched by age, sex, body mass index, and AHI at baseline. The dates of the analysis were May 30 to June 29, 2014.


Coblation endoscopic lingual lightening.


The primary outcome measure was change in AHI after surgery (after ≥6 months). Other outcomes were differences in surgical response rates, perioperative apnea index, lowest oxygen saturation, and Epworth Sleepiness Scale score.


The study cohort comprised 90 participants. Their mean (SD) age was 40.7 (9.2) years, and 96% (86 of 90) were male. Group 1 patients (n = 30) underwent combined CELL and relocation pharyngoplasty, and group 2 patients (n = 60) underwent relocation pharyngoplasty only. The mean (SD) AHI decreased from 48.4 (16.9) to 16.5 (11.2) (P < .001) in group 1 and from 44.2 (19.3) to 20.1 (15.6) (P < .001) in group 2. Percentage change in AHI was significantly different between group 1 and group 2 (mean [SD], −65.5 [20.5] vs −53.2 [30.3]) (P = .047). The surgical response rate was greater in group 1 (73% [22 of 30]) than in group 2 (50% [30 of 60]) (P = .04).


Without increasing complications, combined CELL and relocation pharyngoplasty achieved greater AHI reduction and a higher surgical response rate among adults with OSA and Friedman stage III compared with relocation pharyngoplasty alone.

This retrospective case-control study evaluates the clinical and polysomnographic outcomes of tongue base reduction using the coblation endoscopic lingual lightening procedure in multilevel surgery for obstructive sleep apnea.

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