A pilot study suggests that the insertion of small synthetic rods in the back of the mouth, in the soft palate, appears to be a safe and effective measure against severe snoring.
According to the report in the Archives of Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery the implants stiffen the soft palate and prevent it from vibrating excessively as air passes through the throat during sleep. The implant procedure can be performed under local anesthesia on a same day basis, and a specially designed insertion device is needed.
Dr. William I. Wei and colleagues, from the University of Hong Kong, tested the implants in 12 patients with severe snoring over a 3-month period. Implant placement was associated with a dramatic drop in snoring loudness as assessed by bed partners, the researchers report. This coincided with a marked reduction in daytime sleepiness in the snorers.
The procedure was well tolerated and no bleeding or infectious complications occurred. Moreover, oral feeding was started immediately and all patients were sent home on the day of surgery.
"We have reported here the first clinical study on the safety and efficacy of...implants in the soft palate to relieve severe snoring," the authors state. Placement of such implants "with a 1-stage procedure represents a possible direction to relieve snoring with minimal discomfort and risk."