Are you suffering from sleep apnea? In some instances, this is known as OSAHS, obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, and the medical condition can cause a number of health concerns for patients. However, researchers from Wayne State University have found a surgical tool that may provide those who have been diagnosed with the condition some much needed relief.
A better understanding
Those who are unfamiliar with sleep apnea may have many questions regarding the illness. As it happens, it is a rather common medical condition that plagues a number of Americans. There are two forms of the condition:
• Central sleep apnea is caused by neurological conditions such as a stroke due to a lack of respiratory effort from the body
• Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of a closed airway, even though the body is expressing normal respiratory efforts
In some events, cases of sleep apnea are caused by a combination of these two causes. The most common form of the condition is OSAHS, which most frequently happens when an individual's windpipe closes repeatedly during sleep.1 This is extremely dangerous, because when it happens the person is unable to breath.
If you or someone you know exhibits the following symptoms, it might be time to head to the doctor:
- Lack of sleep due to waking up multiple times throughout the night
- Snoring while asleep
- A need to nap throughout the day because of tired feelings
- Difficulty focusing because an inability to sleep
- Unexplained health issues such as high blood pressure, daytime headaches or incontinence during the night
Although anyone may suffer from OSAHS, it is more common in men than women. Other contributing factors can include age, weight and potentially smoking.
Not only can OSAHS negatively impact an individual's social life – due to an excess of sleepiness and potential mood altering effects – it is also related to a number of other serious health concerns. For instance, the symptom of high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular issues.2 Although obesity is a trigger of OSAHS, those who are within a reasonable weight have also had issues with diabetes mellitus due to their sleep apnea. Another major health concern that the condition can result in is liver dysfunction. Even patients who are non alcoholics have been found to have raised liver enzymes and fibrosis when a liver biopsy was conducted.
A new way to help
Dr. Ho-Sheng Lin and associates found that a transoral robotic surgery (TORS) may be beneficial in treating patients who are suffering from OSAHS. This is a technique in which doctors are able to safely remove tumors from the back of throats that are responsible for causing the condition.3
"In order to be maximally effective, the surgeon must evaluate each patient individually to identify the exact site or sites of airway obstruction and then direct the surgical treatments to address those obstructions," Lin explained in a statement.
The new device that researchers at Wayne State have developed is called the da Vinci Surgical System. The design is perfect for helping doctors successfully and safely remove those bothersome tumors. Professionals who conducted the study were able to use the da Vinci for positive outcomes in a total of 12 patients.
1 National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental illnesses: sleep apnea, what is sleep apnea?" July 2012
2 National Institutes of Health, "Obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome" June 2012
3 EurekAlert!, "New surgical tool may help sleep apnea sufferers, Wayne State research finds" August 27, 2013