We evaluated the effectiveness of using a plasma-mediated radiofrequency-based ablation (Coblation) device to perform volumetric tissue reduction of the soft palate as a means of controlling snoring in 23 patients with loud snoring and mild or no sleep apnea. Tissue reduction was achieved by performing a channeling procedure designed to shrink the tissue surrounding the treatment zone. The soft palate was treated at three separate sites, and each channel was completed in approximately 11 seconds. Data regarding the primary outcome—that is, pre- and postoperative subjective assessments of snoring intensity provided by the patients’ bed partners—were available for comparison for 21 of the 23 patients. Of the 21 patients, treatment was deemed successful in 10 (48%). Postoperatively, the overall mean intensity of snoring on a scale of 0 (no snoring) to 10 (terrible snoring) fell by 4 points (p < 0.05). Likewise, the loudness of snoring was also significantly reduced on objective SNAP recordings; the mean intensity fell from 12 to 8 dB (p < 0.05). Of the 10 successfully treated patients, 2 required only one procedure, 5 were improved after two treatments, and 3 underwent three operations. Seventeen of the 23 patients (74%) reported an improvement in quality of life. Surgical complications were mild to moderate, and pain was easily manageable in most cases. Our findings suggest that this procedure can be an effective treatment for socially unacceptable snoring. We hope that in future studies, investigators will evaluate outcomes over a longer term.
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