Over 13 per cent Indian population is believed to suffer from sleep apnea while only 4 per cent people turn in for medical guidance.

According to ENT surgeon Dr Vikas Agrawal, first Indian surgeon to perform the ENT procedure for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) robotically and endoscopically in India, men were three times more prone to OSA than women.

OSA is a condition in which a person incurs breathing problems and these gaps in breathing are called apneas. The disorder occurs when tissues in the upper throat collapse at different times during sleep, thereby blocking the passage of air.

“Our faces are more flat; chin is not as protruded as Caucasians, as a result of which our tongue presses on the back of throat more frequently. This is one reason why the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask is not as effective in our population as Caucasians,” informed Dr Agarwal.

Live robotic surgery in Mumbai to treat sleep apnea patients

Spearheaded by Dr Agarwal, Asian Heart Institute hosted a live robotic surgery course on two OSA patients in Mumbai and 2000 doctors worldwide were part of the webcast.

The workshop displayed Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) of the base of tongue to treat OSA and apart from Dr Agarwal, renowned apnea surgeons like Prof. Dr. Claudio Vicini, Dr Filippo Montevecchi from Italy, Dr Ramakanta Panda, VC and Cardio-Vascular Thoracic Surgeon, Asian Heart Institute were part of it.

“Both these patients were non obese and had tried the continuous airway pressure (CPAP) therapy however it did not benefit them. Studies suggest that obese people are four times more prone to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, but now we are increasingly seeing even non-obese patients with severe OSA symptoms,” said Dr Agrawal.

Describing the procedure, Prof. Dr. Vicini said that TORS of the base tongue for treatment of OSA had many advantages over conventional CPAP therapy option which delivers air through a mask while the patient sleeps, keeping the airway open.

TORS gets thumbs up from experts

The experts believe that the procedure can treat OSA in one go and is a much simpler surgery that the conventional surgery that involves great risk.

Dr Ramakanta Panda agreed. “This live surgery course on TORS is a step towards honing the skills and expertise of the medical community who will benefit largely form this surgical knowledge sharing,” he said, adding that this was a major breakthrough in curing sleep apnea and could pave way to finding a permanent cure for the disorder.

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