What is the long-term effectiveness of palatal implants as a treatment for primary snoring?
Background: Primary snoring, defined as snoring without sleep-disordered breathing, affects more than 20 percent of the population and can cause significant social and marital stress. Traditional treatments with CPAP, oral appliances, or invasive surgery either do not produce satisfactory results or are associated with significant risk. Although palatal implants have been shown to be effective in short-term studies, there have been no long-term studies.
Study design: Prospective longitudinal study.
Setting: Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Synopsis: Snoring outcomes were obtained before and after soft palate implantation for 23 patients diagnosed with primary snoring. Although some were slightly overweight, none of the patients were obese. The implants work by producing scar tissue to reduce vibrations. A statistically and clinically significant improvement in the snoring scale was noted when comparing snoring severity between the pre-operative and four-year evaluation period and between the 52-week and four-year scores. However, there was a clinical deterioration of almost 50 percent in the snoring scale between 52 weeks and four years. Limitations of the study included the stringent patient selection (not including individuals with sleep apnea or obesity), the subjective measure of partner-rated snoring severity rather than objective measures and the possibility of a placebo effect early in the study.
Bottom line: Subjective improvement of snoring after soft palate implantation deteriorates significantly over time and is only minimally sustained at four years post-operatively.
Reference: Rotenberg BW, Luu K. Four-year outcomes of palatal implants for primary snoring treatment: a prospective longitudinal study. Laryngoscope. 2012;33(12):696-699.