Procedure

Uvulopalatoplasty- Ear Nose And Throat (ENT)

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Uvulopalatoplasty is the removal of the uvula to treat noisy breathing or snoring and to relieve the manifestations of sleep apnea and other sleep disordered breathing issues. This procedure is also known as laser-assisted sleep apnea surgery since it is performed using lasers.

The uvula, also known as the palatine uvula, is a little tissue stretching out at the back of the soft palate and hangs at the back of the throat. There are some functions ascribed to the uvula. It helps battle infections and lubricates the throat during speech and food intake. It additionally prevents choking during swallowing.  

Why is uvulopalatoplasty required?

Uvulopalatoplasty was initially created to improve snoring. Uvula removal can help widen the airways, further preventing the vibration of tissues when air goes through the mouth. Loud snoring may worsen with age and studies have demonstrated that this condition affects more men than women in all ages.

Those who are diagnosed to have upper airway resistance could likewise benefit from this procedure. This condition leads to obstructive breathing in sleep, prompting insomnia and drowsiness all throughout the day.

Uvulopalatoplasty is likewise suggested for those experiencing mild obstructive sleep apnea, in which patients stop breathing for a few seconds during sleep. This leads to low oxygen levels in the blood and sufferers would frequently wake up gasping for air.

Which doctor to consult?

Talk to an otolaryngologist/ENT surgeon, who will explain to you about the procedure, the risks and after-care.

What to expect during uvulopalatoplasty?

Uvulopalatoplasty may be performed in an outpatient setting for a few treatment sessions. Both the doctor and the patient, as well as medical staff, are required to wear laser safety goggles. The patient is then given anesthesia to numb the throat and its neighboring areas. The doctor may use carbon dioxide laser to incise on the soft palate located on the two sides of the uvula. The laser is additionally used to cut and remove the uvula, alongside a few sections of the soft palate.

Post-operative care

You will have mild throat pain for a few days after the procedure. The use of pain medicines every 3-4 hours for the initial few days is suggested. After that, pain medicines may be utilized less frequently to relieve pain that is related to eating.

A fluid-based is prescribed for the initial few days, such as water, non-acidic juices, milk, ice cream, gelatin, soup and soda may be consumed. After 3 or 4 days, soft foods may be eaten like eggs, mashed potatoes, cereal, rice or noodles.

A little amount of blood in the nasal discharge may be present, as well as a small amount of blood in the saliva. This is expected 24 hours after the procedure. Do not do any vigorous activities such as sports or weight lifting one week after the surgery.

There may be some loud breathing or mild snoring after the procedure due to swelling or the palate. This swelling and snoring will resolve after a few days. Take antibiotics as prescribed by your physician and avoid taking aspirin and similar medicines. Gargling should not be done a week after the procedure. You may brush your teeth.

A sleep study may be done around 6 weeks after the procedure.

Complications

The use of anesthesia during uvulopalatoplasty may cause hypersensitive responses in a few patients. Furthermore, patients may encounter mild bleeding after the procedure, which can easily be managed.

Likewise, a few patients report mild pain that may require the use of pain medicines for  a few weeks. There may be infections on the surgical site, which may require antibiotics use.

After uvulopalatoplasty, there may be regurgitation in the first few days after the procedure, though it is not common. Fluids and food particles may be thrown up and even through the nose. This is temporary.

Rarely, narrowing of the space behind the soft palace may occur. This creates difficulty in breathing through the nose, talking, and swallowing. If this happens, see your doctor.

References

What is Uvulopalatoplasty: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results | Medical tourism information | DocDoc. Docdoc.com.sg. https://www.docdoc.com.sg/info/procedure/uvulopalatopharyngoplasty/. Published 2019. Accessed January 14, 2019.

Chicagonasalsinuscenter.com. http://www.chicagonasalsinuscenter.com/pdf/PostOp-Uvulopalatoplasty.pdf. Published 2019. Accessed January 14, 2019.

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