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Researchers cure snoring with radiofrequency procedure

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Researchers say snoring can be successfully treated using radiofrequency ablation, a minimally-invasive procedure that uses heat to shrink the tissue of the soft palate.

Researchers say snoring can be successfully treated using radiofrequency ablation, a minimally-invasive procedure that uses heat to shrink the tissue of the soft palate.

In a paper presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) annual meeting in San Diego, researchers outlined the results from a study of 60 patients who were subjected to combined radiofrequency of the soft palate and partial uvulectomy.

In that study, participants were subjected to two treatment sessions of combined radiofrequency. Compared to their scoring levels before treatment, snoring levels decreased. After three years, seventy-six percent of the patients were found to be "satisfied" to have received the treatment.

Radiofrequency surgery of the soft palate in general has become widespread, but the long-term proof of the surgery's efficacy was, until now, limited.

The tissue-shrinking procedure works like so: The energy from a crescent-shaped wand containing a sheathed electrode that emits a low level of radio-frequency energy causes molecular particles within tissue cells to vibrate, generating frictional heat of up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

With relatively low temperature radio-frequency, the heat effectively destroys the unwanted cells. The technique has already been applied for a variety of medical conditions, including problems with heart rhythm, cranial nerves, enlarged prostates and some forms of cancer.

Primary snoring may be an early predictor for people who will eventually develop obstructive sleep apnea.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure