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Pillar Procedure Confirmed Effective in Treatment of Snoring and Sleep Apnea

A new study published in the January issue of Laryngoscope adds to growing evidence that the Pillar Procedure is an effective treatment for reducing snoring and mild-to-moderate sleep apnea.

Snoring due to OSA

One of the causes of snoring and sleep apnea is a relaxation of the muscles at the back of the throat — known as the soft palate — that blocks the airway while a person sleeps. When these muscle tissues relax enough that they vibrate, they cause snoring. They may even relax so much that the tissue blocks the airway passage, causing the person to have shallow or obstructed breathing many times a night, or stop breathing altogether a few seconds at a time throughout the night.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of three types of sleep apnea that can be potentially life threatening because during sleep, breathing repeatedly stops and starts, which can cause a drop in the amount of oxygen in your blood.

A recent study at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that snoring is a bigger risk factor for heart disease, including stroke and heart attacks, than being overweight, having high cholesterol, and even smoking.

Pillar Procedure effective

For the Pillar Procedure study, Ji Ho Choi, M.D., Ph. D., and coauthors reviewed seven studies on the impact of the Pillar Procedure on snoring and mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The authors wrote in their report, “The Pillar implant seems to have a considerable efficacy on snoring and mild-to-moderate OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) patients.”

What is the Pillar Procedure?

The Pillar Procedure is a minimally invasive method for stiffening the soft palate that works by placing small woven implants into the soft palate. The Pillar Procedure was first approved as a treatment for snoring by the FDA in 2002, and for mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea in 2004.

The Pillar Procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office, usually takes about fifteen minutes, and is done under local anesthesia. During the Pillar Procedure, three small polyester rods are implanted in the soft palate of the patient’s throat. The inserts lend more support to the soft palate, and over time the body’s scarring response causes the tissue to harden and bind with the implants, slightly stiffening the soft palate to keep it from totally relaxing when the patient sleeps.

The results of the new study contributes to growing evidence that the Pillar Procedure as an effective, patient-friendly treatment option for snoring due to OSA. Read the entire study, “Efficacy of the Pillar Implant in the Treatment of Snoring and Mild-to-Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea: a Meta-Analysis.”

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