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Temperature-Controlled Radiofrequency Tongue Base Reduction For Sleep-Disordered Breathing: Long-Term Outcomes

Kasey K. Li, Nelson B. Powell, Robert W. Riley, Christian Guilleminault

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OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to evaluate the long-term outcomes of temperature-controlled radiofrequency reduction of the tongue base in sleep-disordered breathing. METHODS: The 18 patients from our initial pilot study were reevaluated. Clinical examinations, polysomnography (PSG), questionnaires, visual analog scales, and a comparative SF-36 were used to assess long-term outcomes. RESULTS: Sixteen of the original 18 patients completed this study; 2 patients were lost to follow-up. The mean follow-up was 28 months. There was a mean weight increase of 3.1 ± 7.9 kg. The original pretreatment Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI) was a mean of 39.5 with a mean mean oxygen saturation nadir (LSAT) of 81.9%, and the posttreatment RDI was a mean of 17.8 with a mean LSAT of 88.3%. Follow-up PSG data showed a persistent improvement of the mean Apnea Index compared with pretreatment (5.4 vs 22.1) without significant changes compared with posttreatment (4.1). However, there were changes in the follow-up Hypopnea Index (HI) of 22.9 compared with the pretreatment and posttreatment HI values of 17.4 and 13.6, respectively. This resulted in a relapse of the RDI from a posttreatment value of 17.8 to 28.7. The LSAT also worsened from 88.3% to 85.8%. However, there was no significant deterioration in the quality-of-life measurements by SF-36 or in daytime sleepiness by Epworth Sleepiness Scale. CONCLUSION: The success of temperature-controlled radiofrequency tongue base reduction for sleep-disordered breathing may reduce with time. PSG demonstrated that long-term relapse is primarily reflected in the HI without significant detrimental effects on the patient's quality of life (SF-36) and sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale). Continual evaluation of this treatment modality is warranted.