When is surgery better than CPAP therapy for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a severe condition that affects not only sleep quality but also overall health. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is a widely used treatment for many patients. However, there are situations in which surgical procedures would be much better.
The limits of CPAP therapy
Although the CPAP mask is effective in keeping the airway open during sleep, some patients experience difficulties, for example, if they find the mask uncomfortable, have an allergic reaction or are unable to use the mask regularly for other reasons: Inconsistent use of the CPAP mask also detracts the success of treatment.
Indications for surgery
Surgical intervention should be considered if:
- There are anatomical causes for snoring: If enlarged tonsils, an abnormal jaw structure or a deviated nasal septum cause sleep apnea, these problems can often only be corrected surgically.
- CPAP therapy is not tolerated: Some patients suffer from sleep problems, skin irritation, dryness of the airways or feelings of claustrophobia caused by the CPAP mask.
- A combination of pre-existing conditions exists: Patients who have other health problems in addition to sleep apnea that could be alleviated by permanent airway expansion are also good candidates for surgical procedures.
Different types of surgical procedures
Different surgical methods are used depending on the cause and severity of sleep apnea:
- Nasal surgery: Nose procedures such as septoplasty can help improve nasal breathing and sustainably increase the efficiency of mask or dental splint treatment efficiency.
- Tongue pacemaker (sleep apnea implant): An implant electrically stimulates the nerves of the tongue muscles to prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway during sleep.
- Osteotomy: This complex surgery involves surgically altering the upper and lower jaw to enlarge the airway.
The decision to undergo surgery
The decision as to whether surgery should be performed must be based on a careful evaluation of the individual case. This includes a detailed sleep study, an assessment of the anatomical conditions and a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the various treatment options.
Ultimately, surgery for sleep apnea can significantly improve quality of life and provide a permanent solution. However, this decision must be made in close consultation with an experienced specialist to achieve the best possible results.