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Advanced Surgical Technique Offers New Hope for Sleep Apnea Sufferers

A new advanced surgical technique for treating sleep apnea could become the first reliable approach to relieving the condition’s symptoms, reducing complications, and eliminating side effects. The technique is the brainchild of Dr. Kenneth Fleisher, an Assistant Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at NYU College of Dentistry.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a portion of the upper airway becomes obstructed by the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and/or muscles along the throat, causing breathing during sleep to stop for 10 seconds or longer.

Traditional surgical approaches prescribed for patients who cannot tolerate nighttime breathing masks do not always yield good, long–term results, largely because they do not address all areas of obstruction. Contemporary surgical techniques focus on enlarging the entire upper airway, including the throat, tongue, and palate. But if the tongue or jaw is moved too far forward, it can result in an unattractive appearance.

Dr. Fleisher has developed a treatment protocol combining a more modest surgical approach with a tongue suspension, a process of creating additional space around the upper airway to compensate for the limited effects of the more modest jaw advancement. This approach has more predictable results and a significantly lower risk of complications, such as jaw fracture or damage to tooth roots, because Dr. Fleisher uses a CT scanner that eliminates the distortion commonly seen in panoramic X–rays and provides a more accurate depiction of bone levels in the jaw and mouth.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call Deborah Granger in the NYU College of Dentistry Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, at (212) 998-9329.

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