Have you realized that the most common time when someone gets a heart attack, or dies suddenly is late night or early morning, when the person is actually in sound sleep. Worldwide research and statistics prove beyond doubt, that Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of the important conditions responsible for it.
Snoring, a common social problem, is the sound produced, when the air passage (windpipe) gets partially blocked during the so - called deep sleep. When the air passage gets completely blocked, it is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). When this happens, the oxygen levels in the body drops, which makes the brain wake up the person from deep sleep, resulting in temporary opening of the airway, so as to resume breathing. This vicious cycle continues the whole night leading to sleep disturbance and inadequate rest. The result is daytime sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, which in the long run leads to blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. If the choking episodes occurs frequently and for a longer duration (severe OSA), one is prone to heart attack, heart failure, stroke etc.
For many years, OSA was being treated with an air mask, which is applied on the face throughout the night lifelong, to push extra air into the airway to prevent it from collapsing. However, many people are not able to tolerate this and remain untreated. With the latest American technology using the Da Vinci Robotic System, most patients of sleep apnea can be cured for life by a one time minimally invasive procedure called Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS). There are two main areas of throat responsible for the block, soft palate and back of the tongue called tongue base. To detect, which of these areas is causing obstruction during sleep, the person is put to sleep with sedative medicines, and a small camera is put through the nose down to the throat when he or she starts snoring. This procedure is called DISE or drug induced sleep endoscopy and gives a clear picture of site and type of obstruction. Depending on the site and type of obstruction, surgical planning is performed for the palate or tongue or both. Sometimes, if there is a blockage in the nose, it is cleared as a separate procedure before hand. Tongue base surgery has been challenging due to the difficulty of manipulating surgical instruments in a limited space, where lighting and visualization is restricted. However, with a high definition 3-D camera with advanced imaging technology, robotic surgery allows surgeons to visualize areas of the mouth and throat at level of detail, that could only be seen in the past through open incisions. Therefore robotic surgery is an excellent minimally invasive and effective treatment option for snoring and OSA patients. The beauty of robotic surgery is that it provides surgeons with much improved dexterity and precision to access the base of the tongue for surgical procedures. It is conducted with the use of robotic arms operated by surgeons. The surgeon controls the system which translates the doctor’s hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the body, allowing the surgeon to access the tight space at the base of the tongue.