Scientists put a cork in snorers

October 8, 1999

A radical treatment for snoring, which involves modifying the palate with radio waves, has been given a glowing bill of health in long-term tests.

A team from the Stanford Sleep Disorders and Research Center in the United States looked at patients who have received somnoplasty to tackle their problem over an 18-month period following their operations.

Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in the palate. The new technology, which has been used in treatment for the past two years, involves heating up the palate using low-power radio waves so that scar tissue forms and stiffens the flesh.

The experts reported to Sunday's meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology that 13 of the 22 patients studied reported no relapse of snoring, while of those whose problem returned only one was dissatisfied with the procedure and declined to undergo a second treatment.

The scientists concluded that while the success rate was comparable with other forms of palate modification used to tackle snoring - such as laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty - somnoplasty was much more popular with patients because it was far less invasive.

The treatment is not available on the NHS.

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