Thyrohyoidopexy is a procedure that is performed in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and significant obstruction behind the tongue. This procedure pulls the tongue forward by repositioning the hyoid bone and pulling the tongue and epiglottis down and forward. The main advantage of this procedure is that it is done through an incision through the neck and can be done without operating in the throat; as a result recovery can be achieved in days rather than weeks. However, if this procedure is combined with a tonsillectomy and palatal surgery (UPPP) recovery will take 2-3 weeks
The thyrohyoidopexy does cause some swallowing difficulties, but this improves over 2-3 weeks. There is a low incidence of post-operative complications such as bleeding, wound infection, altered sense of taste or speech and swallowing problems. Done alone, this procedure allows patient to return to normal activities rapidly, however, most patients require mulit-level surgery. The extent of surgery is determined at the time of the office visit and varies depending on an individual’s anatomy.
In some cases procedures can be done in different stages; the thyrohyoidopexy is done first followed by a sleep study in three months. If there is residual sleep apnea the palate work can be done later if necessary.
The hyoid bone (above) is secured to the thyroid cartilage (voice box) with suture.
This brings the tongue forward and opens the airway behind the tongue.