Analysis examines glossectomy as solo treatment for sleep apnea




CORONADO, CALIF. – Results from a new meta-analysis suggest that glossectomy significantly improves sleep outcomes when performed as part of a multi-level surgery for adults with obstructive sleep apnea.

However, “there is insufficient evidence to analyze the role of glossectomy as a stand-alone procedure for the treatment of sleep apnea,” lead study author Dr. Alexander W. Murphey said in an interview in advance of The Triological Society’s Combined Sections meeting, where the work was presented. “The lack of available data for glossectomy as a single treatment was disappointing, and points to the need for further studies in this population.”

Dr. Alexander W. Murphey

Dr. Alexander W. Murphey

Glossectomy for OSA was first reported in 1991 as a salvage surgery after uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, said Dr. Murphey, who is completing a clinical research fellowship in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, under the mentoring of Dr. Marion B. Gillespie and Dr. Shaun A. Nguyen. Since that time, “many modifications have been made regarding technique and instrumentation with recent focus on minimally invasive techniques aimed at maximizing tissue reduction while limiting the inherent morbidity associated with glossectomy,” he said. “The aim of our study was to review and analyze all of the available literature on partial glossectomy for OSA in one study. Overall, there is a significant lack of research into glossectomy, and what literature is available include small, case-series that analyze glossectomy as part of complex, multi-level surgeries. This study represents the first large scale meta-analysis on the role of glossectomy, and attempts to determine the role of glossectomy both as part of multi-level surgery, and as a single, stand-alone sleep apnea treatment.”

Dr. Murphey used the PubMed-NCBI literature database to identify studies with 10 or more patients and reported preoperative and postoperative apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) scores. The primary endpoint was change in AHI while secondary endpoints included predefined surgical success rates, and changes in additional reported sleep outcomes such as Epworth Sleep Scores (ESS), Lowest Oxygen Saturation (LSAT), and snoring visual analog scale (VAS). The researchers reported results from 15 articles with 442 patients treated with three glossectomy techniques (midline glossectomy, lingualplasty, and submucosal minimally invasive lingual excision (SMILE). In pooled analyses that compared baseline vs. post-surgery, investigators observed significant reductions in AHI (from 48 to 20); ESS (from 12 to 5), and VAS (from 9 to 3; all with a P of less than .0001). In addition, they observed a significant increase in LSAT (from 77% to 84%; P less than .0001), according to the findings, presented at the meeting, which was jointly sponsored by the Triological Society and the American College of Surgeons.

Surgical success, which was defined as an AHI less than 20 and a greater than 50% reduction in AHI, was achieved in 56% of cases, while complications occurred in 18% of patients. Only 24 patients (5%) were treated with glossectomy as sole therapy for OSA. Among these 24 patients, significant reductions occurred in AHI (from 42 to 25; P=.0345) and ESS (from 12 to 7; P less than .0001).

Dr. Murphey acknowledged certain limitations of the analysis, including “a lack of quality research involving glossectomy, with the majority of available published data drawn from small, case-series without control arms,” he said. “Additionally, studies varied in surgical approach, inclusion criteria, and accompanying procedures in multi-level treatment. This makes it extremely difficult to truly compare treatments.”

The researchers reported having no relevant financial conflicts.

On Twitter @dougbrunk

Next Article: