Summary of intervention
Snoring is a noise that occurs during sleep that can be caused by vibration of tissues of the throat and palate. It is very common and as many as one in four adults snore, as long as it is not complicated by periods of apnoea (temporarily stopping breathing) it is not usually harmful to health, but can be disruptive, especially to a person’s partner.
This guidance relates to surgical procedures in adults to remove, refashion or stiffen the tissues of the soft palate (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, Laser assisted Uvulopalatoplasty & Radiofrequency ablation of the palate) in an attempt to improve the symptom of snoring. Please note this guidance only relates to patients with snoring in the absence of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and should not be applied to the surgical treatment of patients who snore and have proven OSA who may benefit from surgical intervention as part of the treatment of the OSA.
It is important to note that snoring can be associated with multiple other causes such as being overweight, smoking, alcohol or blockage elsewhere in the upper airways (e.g. nose or tonsils) and often these other causes can contribute to the noise alongside vibration of the tissues of the throat and palate.
Number of CCG interventions in 2017/18
It is on the basis of limited clinical evidence of effectiveness, and the significant risks that patients could be exposed to, this procedure should no longer be routinely commissioned in the management of simple snoring.
There are a number of alternatives to surgery that can improve the symptom of snoring. These include:
- Weight loss
- Stopping smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Medical treatment of nasal congestion (rhinitis)
- Mouth splints (to move jaw forward when sleeping)
Rationale for recommendation
In two systematic reviews of 72 primary research studies there is no evidence that surgery to the palate to improve snoring provides any additional benefit compared to other treatments. While some studies demonstrate improvements in subjective loudness of snoring at 6-8 weeks after surgery; this is not longstanding (> 2years) and there is no long-term evidence of health benefit. This intervention has limited to no clinical effectiveness and surgery carries a 0-16% risk of severe complications (including bleeding, airway compromise and death). There is also evidence from systematic reviews that up to 58-59% of patients suffer persistent side effects (swallowing problems, voice change, globus, taste disturbance & nasal regurgitation). It is on this basis the interventions should no longer be routinely commissioned.