The tongue is a frequent cause of upper airway blockage in obstructive sleep apnea. It can collapse toward the back of the throat during sleep, therefore contributing to obstruction of the airway. The collapsibility of the tongue can be improved with genioglossus advancement. The genioglossus is the primary muscle of the tongue and is attached to a small bony projection on the interior of the lower jaw. During genioglossus advancement surgery this small projection is moved forward and the tongue attachment is repositioned anteriorly so that it is less likely to collapse posteriorly and block the airway during sleep.
This procedure is performed in a hospital surgery center under general anesthesia.
This procedure takes approximately 30 minutes. Overnight hospitalization is usually recommended afterward and patients usually return to work in 10 to 14 days. While speech and swallowing are not affected, this procedure is typically associated with pain, swelling and occasional minor numbness of the lower front teeth. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with uvulopalatal flap and radiofrequency reduction of the tongue in order to maximize airway improvement.
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