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News Americas

For some individuals, surgical intervention may be the only option for creating the necessary air passageway to resolve their OSA. (Photo: Vladimir Melnik/Shutterstock)
Aug 6, 2013 | News Americas

Jaw surgery improves obstructive sleep apnea

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., USA: A study conducted by oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the U.S. has provided new evidence that maxillomandibular advancement (MMA), a procedure that surgically moves the upper and lower jaws forward, significantly improves obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The findings could benefit many patients suffering from the often life-threatening condition.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have mild sleep apnea and 1 in 15 adults suffer from moderate sleep apnea. During sleep, the patient's upper airway can be obstructed by excess tissue, large tonsils or a large tongue. In addition to airway muscles, which relax and collapse during sleep, nasal passages and the position of the jaw may contribute to the condition.

Therefore, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham evaluated soft tissue changes to the upper airway after MMA in eight patients diagnosed with mild to severe OSA. Comparing pre- and postoperative CT scans, they observed that the surgery increased the distance from the back of the skull to the forward point of the chin and thus increased the patients' airway dimensions significantly.

Overall, the surgery improved the participants' apnea–hypopnea index, an index of sleep apnea severity that combines pauses in breathing and abnormally low respiratory rates, and decreased pressure effort of the upper airway, a factor that decreased the patients' breathing workload, the researchers said.

The study, titled "Computational Fluid Dynamic Analysis of the Posterior Airway Space After Maxillomandibular Advancement for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome," was published in the August issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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