Transoral Robotic Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Asian Patients: A Singapore Sleep Centre Experience | Minimally Invasive Surgery | JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
July 2014

Transoral Robotic Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Asian Patients: A Singapore Sleep Centre Experience

Author Affiliations
  • 1Sleep Apnea Surgery Service, Department of Otolaryngology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
  • 2School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • 3Duke–National University of Singapore Graduate School of Medicine, Singapore
  • 4HN Tay ENT Surgery, Mt Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;140(7):624-629. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.926

Importance  This study investigates the effectiveness of combined palatal surgery and transoral robotic surgical (TORS) tongue base reduction with partial epiglottidectomy in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in an Asian context. To our knowledge, this is the first report on TORS for OSA in Asian patients in the literature.

Objective  To report our preliminary experience with combined TORS tongue base reduction and partial epiglottidectomy with palatal surgery as a multilevel surgical treatment strategy for moderate to severe OSA in Asian patients for whom positive airway pressure treatment had failed.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A retrospective study of prospectively collected data on 40 Asian patients who underwent primary TORS tongue base reduction with partial epiglottidectomy and palatal surgery for treatment of moderate to severe OSA at an academic tertiary surgical center.

Interventions  Transoral robotic surgery and palatal surgery for surgical management of OSA in patients for whom positive airway pressure treatment had failed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Twenty patients with complete preoperative and postoperative overnight polysomnograms were evaluated for surgical success and cure, according to traditional surgical criteria, and for subjective outcome measures (snoring and satisfaction on visual analog scale [VAS] and Epworth Sleepiness Scale [ESS]) as well as complications.

Results  Traditional cure (apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] <5/h) was achieved in 7 of 20 patients (35%), traditional success (AHI <20 [>50% reduction in AHI]) was achieved in another 11 patients (55%), and failure was observed in 2 patients (10%). Subjective improvement in snoring, satisfaction, and ESS score was observed. Improvement in mean (SD) ESS score and snoring loudness on VAS were statistically significant, from 12.4 (2.87) to 6.4 (1.43) and 8.7 (0.8) to 3.5 (1.7), respectively (P < .001 for both). None of the patients needed postoperative tracheostomy. Recorded complications included tonsillar fossa bleeding, pain, temporary dysgeusia, numbness of the tongue, and temporary dysphagia.

Conclusions and Relevance  Transoral robotic surgery for tongue base reduction and partial epiglottidectomy for moderate to severe OSA in Asian patients for whom positive airway pressure treatment had failed is associated with good efficacy and low complication rates.