We provide comprehensive treatment for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow during sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea can also often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

The effects of sleep apnea

When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents and other medical problems. Research has shown that lack of oxygen during sleep can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can stress your heart and also increase your risk of developing diabetes. Sleep apnea may be an underlying cause of heart disease and can worsen existing cardiovascular disease.

You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, have small airways or have a family history of sleep apnea. Children with enlarged tonsils may also be susceptible.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


In addition to a physical examination, including questions about your medical and family histories, your specialist will recommend that you participate in an overnight monitored sleep study. The study will help confirm if you have sleep apnea and provide critical information about your condition.


A common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is administered through a mask you wear at night when you sleep that pushes air into your nose and/or mouth.

Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea and response to CPAP, other potential solutions, including surgery, may be required. 

An FDA-approved treatment, upper airway stimulation is an advanced therapy for sleep apnea that works much like a pacemaker. 

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center specialists often recommend another sleep study after treatment as part of your follow-up.

Hyoid myotomy and suspension

For obstructive sleep apnea patients who don’t tolerate their CPAP (air mask to aid breathing while sleeping), surgery may be a good option. By evaluating the airway from the nose down to the lungs, your surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for a hyoid myotomy and suspension, which involves pulling forward the hyoid bone to prevent the base of the tongue collapse while sleeping.

The hyoid bone is found above the cartilage in your throat known as the Adam’s apple. In hyoid myotomy and suspension, the hyoid bone is advanced forward and secured to the jaw bone or mandible. This helps stabilize this section of the airway to re-establish airflow.

Pillar implants

This procedure consists of inserting implants (small rod-like objects made of braided suture material) into the soft palate of your mouth. It helps relieve snoring and mild sleep apnea. This is done to help keep that area of the palate rigid so that it doesn’t collapse during sleep and contribute to snoring or sleep apnea. This method is an alternative to tissue removal and other surgical procedures. It may be done under local anesthesia in the office or combined with other surgical procedures in the operating room.


Septoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes an obstruction of the nasal septum that can cause breathing issues and contribute to sleep apnea.

The surgeon makes an incision on either side of the septum to remove or reposition cartilage or bone that is causing the blockage. This outpatient procedure is usually done under a general anesthetic and takes about one hour to complete.

Sleep study

Sleep studies are used to diagnose potential sleep disorders. These studies measure your body’s responses during a night’s sleep and your overall quality of sleep. Your sleeping behavior is monitored overnight at OSU Wexner Medical Center in a hotel-style room. Often, the study is used to confirm if you have sleep apnea, and the information about your condition it provides is critical to your diagnosis and treatment. OSU Wexner Medical Center specialists may also use follow-up sleep studies to determine your response to treatment. 

Tongue suspension

A frequent level of obstruction during sleep apnea is the base of tongue. Tongue suspension pulls the tongue muscles forward. This decreases the severity of displacement into the throat, clearing the airway. Other procedures, such as suspension or hyoid myotomy, permanent suture through base of tongue, are usually conducted along with tongue suspension for greater results.

Turbinate reduction

Inside the walls of the nose are pairs of long, thin bones called turbinates. Allergies or other conditions can inflame the turbinates, causing them to block airflow. Surgery is used to remove part of the turbinate to improve breathing. Radiofrequency or laser technique may also be used to shrink the turbinate tissue. The surgery is usually performed under a general anesthetic using an endoscope (lighted camera) that is inserted in the nose.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty and anterior palatoplasty

The objective of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, also known as UP3 surgery, is to remove the tonsils, uvula and part of the soft palate to correct sleep apnea. This type of procedure is usually recommended when patients are not able to tolerate their CPAP (air mask to aid breathing while sleeping), or if enlarged tonsils and uvula are the cause of obstruction.

Expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty (ESP) is a variation of the UP3, used in selected circumstances.

The anterior palatoplasty is a “mini-UP3” that can be used to correct mild obstructive sleep apnea or primary snoring. Surgery is usually done under a general anesthetic.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) intolerance

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a medical mask that pushes air into your nose and/or mouth when you sleep to treat sleep apnea. Common problems with CPAP include air leaks, difficulty falling asleep and a dry mouth or nose. There are many CPAP options that can solve these issues. Some come with gradual air release and even heated humidification. Of course, you can always rely on other treatments if CPAP doesn’t work out for you.

Why Choose Ohio State?

The academic medical center difference: The latest research, technology and procedures are often more immediately available to our patients.

Ground-breaking treatments: We offer various treatments, from noninvasive to relatively simple sleep improvement procedures, like removal of tonsils, to the latest FDA-approved technology. Upper airway stimulation – an implantable pacemaker for the hypoglossal nerve (nerve that is associated with the tongue) – syncs a pulse with every breath taken at night to prevent the tongue from blocking airways in the sleep apnea patient.

Nationally ranked: Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is recognized by U.S.News & World Report as one of the nation’s best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat.

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