Cautery-assisted palatal stiffening operation

Published on 09/05/2015 by admin

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Last modified 09/05/2015

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Chapter 26 Cautery-assisted palatal stiffening operation


Snoring is caused by the vibration of the structures in the oral cavity and oropharynx – namely the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, base of tongue, epiglottis and pharyngeal walls. Most authorities would concur that over 80% of snoring is due to palatal flutter, caused by vibration of the uvula and the soft palate. Hence, it would be conceivable that techniques to stiffen the palate would be beneficial in reducing snoring. Different techniques using various instruments (e.g. the laser, cautery and coblator) have been used to achieve the same outcome. The palatal stiffening operation was first introduced by Ellis in 19941 and improvised by Mair in 2000.2 Both authors utilized cautery to stiffen the palate. The original cautery-assisted palatal stiffening operation (CAPSO) procedure was based on stripping a ‘diamond’ shaped area of mucosa off the soft palate and uvula, with the aid of cautery under local anesthesia (Figs 26.1 to 26.4). Although good results were reported, the procedure produced a stellate puckered scar on the soft palate that resulted in tenting of the lateral pharyngeal walls and therefore narrowing of the late­-ral distance between the tonsillar pillars (Fig. 26.5). These anatomic manifestations may explain why some patients did not have any clear benefit from the procedure.

Several of the newer methods involve the use of expensive implants or sophisticated equipment. The ideal technique would be an office-based procedure which would require no special equipment or implants, and which achieves effective results in a reliable and predictable fashion. We describe a modified palatal stiffening technique designed to create the palatal scar and fibrosis that is anatomically sounder and which results in retraction of the palate superiorly, avoiding the puckered scar and stenosis of the lateral pharyngeal walls.


This modified CAPSO (Fig. 26.6) procedure is performed for patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI) < 15) or patients who are primary snorers (AHI <5). The inclusion criteria include patients above 18 years of age, Body Mass Index (BMI) < 33, tonsil size grade 1 and 2, elongated uvula, all Mallampati grades, minimal base of tongue collapse (<25%) as seen on Mueller’s maneuver.

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