3 The procedure

3 The procedure

3.1 Radiofrequency ablation aims to stiffen the soft palate. It may be combined with other techniques (such as removal of the uvula or tonsillectomy) to reduce airflow obstruction and vibration in the airway.

3.2 The procedure is usually done using local anaesthesia in outpatients. An electrode delivery device is introduced into the mouth and directed upwards towards the soft palate. A needle tip makes a series of very shallow punctures in the underlying muscle. Radiofrequency energy is delivered at each puncture site, commonly in the mid-portion of the palate from the uvular base to the posterior nasal spine. Alternatively, 2 lateral applications can be given at a lower energy setting and to several areas on either side. The intention is to scar and tighten the soft palate. If necessary the procedure can be repeated several weeks later: it is often carried out 2 or 3 times.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)