What Causes Snoring?

Approximately 20% of the adult population of the developed world consistently snores at night, at volumes high enough to disturb sleeping partners.1

This results in strained relationships and the possible breakdown of the family unit, as well as real physiologic harm to the snorer.

Zelegent, Inc. was created out of a desire to provide snorers with a single interventional procedure that corrects the most common cause of airway obstruction, but does not require the patient to place an appliance in or over his or her mouth during sleep hours.

The Source of Airway Obstruction

Snoring is always caused by an obstruction of the airway. The source of the obstruction, however, can vary.

Some patients have a large posterior section of their tongue. These patients can be treated with a dental appliance that pulls their mandible forward, moving the back of the tongue away from the airway. This is the minority of cases.

More commonly, the root cause of the obstruction – and the snoring that results – is the soft palate and the uvula resting against the back of the throat.

Snoring & Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Of audible snorers, approximately 10% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which tissues of the nasopharynx fall into positions that block the airway, restricting breathing during sleep to an extent that causes the patient to experience repeated cycles of breathing cessation (apnea) and subsequent gasping for air without regaining consciousness. The OSA patient is deprived of restful sleep and suffers from poor tissue oxygenation, impaired memory, cognition, and daytime mental functioning, and in extreme cases runs the risk of sudden death from oxygen deprivation (asphyxiation) during sleep.

Remedies for OSA start with prescribed weight loss, as approximately 20% of OSA patients can be cured by losing significant fat around the neck. The majority of OSA patients, however, are not obese. For them, the “gold standard” therapy is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. This non-surgical approach to treating OSA requires the patient to wear a head-mounted electric-powered breathing apparatus every night, which mechanically forces air down the patient’s windpipe, blowing open the floppy tissue that would otherwise be obstructing the nasopharynx with each breath cycle. The obvious disadvantage of CPAP therapy is that it can be unpleasant at best and psychologically debilitating at worst – having a serious impact on a patient’s nightlife, not to mention being uncomfortable to wear.

A New Solution to Treat Snoring

The most direct mechanical way to open a patient’s airway is by shortening the length of the soft palate. In the past, this approach has required major surgery, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), and therefore has not been a practical treatment option for most snorers. There has never been a simple, office-based outpatient approach to shortening the soft palate. Until now.

With Elevoplasty®, we aim to provide a solution to treat a vexing healthcare challenge with a simple, five-minute, in-office procedure. The Elevo Set is available today to U.S. clinicians who treat snoring and who have completed their Elevoplasty® training. Contact your Cook Medical representative for details about the next training event in your area.

1 Kapur VK, Respiratory Care, Vol. 55, No. 9, Sept. 2010