BENGALURU: Doctors may not balk at the idea of a patient with barbed wire in their bodies anymore. With the incidence of sleep apnea and related disorders increasing among the urban populace in Bengaluru, the barbed wire technique from Italy — where surgeons implant an ‘absorbable barbed wire’ in the patient’s throat to stretch it and keep the airway open wider — will help people with apnea get a good night’s rest.
The barbed wire expands near the patient’s tonsils and creates a 360-degree space (like a net) so that air enters the airway when they’re sleeping.In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the tonsils and other soft tissues in the mouth and throat relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway. The episode can last from seconds to a minute or longer. The brain senses the problem and awakens the sleeper to open the airway and start breathing again. Sleepers generally aren’t aware of the happenings, but their poor sleep quality is a tell-tale sign. They cause hypertension, heart attacks and stroke. Obesity is one of the main reasons of sleep apnea.
Patients undergo a tonsillectomy and after the procedure, the airway at the level of tonsils are repositioned by using the ‘absorbable barbed wire’. This technique was pioneered in Italy by Claudio Vicni in 2015, said, Dr Sandeep Dachuri, consultant ENT, People Tree Hospital. Dachuri did a fellowship in Italy in snoring and sleep apnea, and was trained under Prof Vicini.
“We have done two surgeries so far, one was a software engineer in his late twenties and another was in his forties. Both came with complaints of daytime drowsiness and snoring. A sleep study revealed that their breathing stopped at least 30 times in an hour. When a person’s breathing stops more than five times per hour, it is considered abnormal. Initially there will be pain and discomfort but the wire will disolve in four to six months,” Dachuri said. The surgery costs Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000.
Sleep apnea affects almost 8 per cent of Indians. Although most are mild, those with severe apnea develop concomitant medical illness very early in life. In fact, it takes many years before it is diagnosed as patients are often treated for concomitant illnesses like hypertension and not the root cause of OSA. Traditionally treatment of OSA was with a bedside machine known commonly as CPAP, (for continuous positive airway pressure.)
Dr Ravi Sachidananda, Senior consultant head and neck surgeon at People Tree Hospital, said, “Many people find the head strap, face mask and long air hose awkward. Some can’t adjust to sleeping with the mask because it makes them feel claustrophobic. Others detest the idea of travelling with them. And a few have trouble with the mask’s fit, which must provide a good seal around the nose. After trying for a week, they give up CPAP and start looking for other solutions.”