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Original Investigation
May 2016

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

Author Affiliations
  • 1Sleep Center, Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Linkou-Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, Republic of China
  • 2Department of Sleep Medicine, Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 3USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016;142(5):438-443. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.3859

Importance  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.

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

Design, Setting, and Participants  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.

Intervention  Coblation endoscopic lingual lightening.

Main Outcomes and Measures Methods  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.

Results  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).

Conclusions and Relevance  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.