This section describes efficacy outcomes from the published literature that the Committee considered as part of the evidence about this procedure. For more detailed information on the evidence, see the interventional procedure overview.
4.1 A randomised controlled trial of 23 patients comparing radiofrequency ablation (n=12) against a sham procedure (n=11) showed a significant improvement in snoring scores (assessed by bed partner using a 10‑point visual analogue scale; 0: no snoring, 10: excessive snoring prompting bed partner to leave the room) for the radiofrequency ablation group at 6 to 8‑week follow-up, compared against the sham group. The mean score decreased from 8 to 5 in the radiofrequency ablation group and from 8.4 to 8.0 in the sham group (p<0.05 for difference between groups). However, only 2 out of 12 patients in the radiofrequency ablation group had a score below 3 (defined as the criterion for success).
4.2 In the randomised controlled trial of 23 patients, daytime sleepiness (assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale; lower scores indicating a better outcome) at 6 to 8‑week follow-up decreased from 5 before the procedure to 4 after the procedure in the radiofrequency ablation group, and from 5 to 4 in the sham group. The difference between the 2 groups was not statistically significant (p=0.77).
4.3 A case series of 52 patients measured quality of life using a questionnaire. Thirty-nine per cent (20/52) of patients reported a 'great' improvement, 19% (10/52) reported a 'moderate' improvement, 25% (13/52) reported a 'mild' improvement and 17% (9/52) reported 'no improvement'. The mean quality-of-life score improved from 4 to 9 (p<0.05) at a mean follow-up of 7 months (details on the scale not reported).
4.4 In a case series of 29 patients, 25% of patients (number not reported) reported satisfaction with the outcome 3 to 4 years after the procedure. Further treatment was carried out in 28% (8/29) of patients (4 had mandibular advancement devices, 1 had continuous positive airway pressure and 3 had radiofrequency-assisted uvulopalatoplasty).
4.5 The specialist advisers listed the following key efficacy outcomes: improvement in snoring and upper airway obstruction leading to resolution of daytime sleepiness and improved quality of life for patient and partner.