What is the role of the Pillar system in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Updated: Feb 25, 2021
  • Author: Charles E Morgan, DMD, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

The Pillar procedure, involving the insertion of palatal implants, is a minimally invasive operation used to treat people with habitual snoring and those with mild to moderate OSA. The Pillar procedure addresses the soft palate, which is one of the anatomic components of sleep apnea and snoring.

During the Pillar procedure, 3 tiny, woven inserts are placed in the soft palate to help reduce the vibration that causes snoring and the ability of the soft palate to obstruct the airway. Once in place, the inserts add structural support to the soft palate. Over time, the body's natural tissue response to the inserts increases the structural integrity of the soft palate. This procedure can be performed in the office or in the operating room as an adjunctive procedure.

A study performed in Norway indicated that the procedure is relatively successful (70%) in terms of bed-partner satisfaction. [5] The cure rate depends on the severity of the preoperative sleep apnea. In most cases, the author encourages patients to undergo an overnight sleep study to assess the severity of the sleep-disordered breathing.


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