Hyoid Suspension

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What is hyoid suspension?

Hyoid suspension surgery is similar to genioglossus advancement, where a patient’s tongue muscle is pulled forward to prevent airway obstruction. Similarly, hyoid suspension pulls the base of the tongue as well as other soft tissues that surround the throat forward. To secure the tongue muscles in the new position, the hyoid bone, located in the neck, is anchored to the thyroid cartilage known as the Adam’s apple. This procedure can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring.

Why is hyoid suspension performed?

Hyoid suspension surgery is performed at New York ENT in order to treat:

  • Weak or limp tongue muscles
  • Snoring
  • Oversized tongue
  • OSA that is caused by limp tongue muscles or an oversized tongue

What does hyoid suspension involve?

Hyoid suspension is performed by a trained ENT specialist, who will first give the patient general anesthesia to ease discomfort during the procedure.

During the procedure, the doctor will make a small incision in the upper neck, exposing the hyoid bone. Then, the muscles attaching the hyoid muscle are carefully detached and the hyoid bone is pulled forward and secured in the new position.

After the procedure, the doctor will use stitches to close the incision, and usually a small drain will be put in the incision site to allow proper drainage. In general, hyoid suspension takes less than one hour to perform and patients usually remain in the hospital for a couple days for monitoring.

What are the advantages of hyoid suspension?

Patients who undergo hyoid suspension for obstructive sleep apnea may experience the following benefits:

  • Long-term airway obstruction relief
  • Increased airflow, making breathing easier
  • Improved snoring and OSA symptoms
  • Short recovery time

How Long Does the Hyoid Suspension Procedure Take?

The hyoid suspension procedure is performed as inpatient surgery. It typically takes 30 to 45 minutes to perform once general anesthesia has begun. You will be in an unconscious state for the brief procedure and will be moved to a monitored recovery area for a short time after your surgery is done. You'll then be moved back to your room, where your doctor and nurse will check in on you periodically.

What is Recovery Like After Hyoid Suspension?

You will be in the hospital for a day or two after your hyoid suspension procedure. This allows us to monitor your fluid intake, control post-op pain with appropriate medications, and ensure that you do not experience complications such as bleeding. Due to swelling, you might notice that you still snore when you sleep. This should resolve over the few weeks that follow surgery. When you are released from the hospital, you will have clear, detailed care instructions. It can be beneficial to have someone stay with you for one or two days to help you as needed.

During your recovery from the hyoid suspension procedure, you may not have much energy to resume normal activities right away. This is ok! Your body needs time to rest and heal, so prepare to take two weeks off work and other obligations. While you must rest, it is also imperative that you walk around the house about three times a day. Doing so helps maintain adequate circulation to prevent blood clots from forming due to inactivity. The walking that you do may also help offset the risk of constipation that can occur as a result of being less active, taking pain medication, and eating a diet that may be different than what you're used to. In terms of your diet, you will need to maintain soft foods. These are anything that you don't have to chew, such as soup, very soft vegetables, applesauce, smoothies, and yogurt. It is also necessary to avoid hot foods and beverages while your throat heals.

By about 14 days after surgery, you can expect to be back to your normal routine.

Will I Notice the Results Immediately After the Procedure?

The results of your hyoid suspension may not be immediate because there will be swelling that can narrow the airway while you sleep. As the tissues in the throat heal and swelling subsides, you should gradually experience an improvement in your snoring and sleep apnea. You may need to continue using your CPAP machine, if you have been prescribed this therapy, until your follow-up visit.

Are There Any Risks from Hyoid Suspension?

Like all surgical procedures, hyoid suspension carries the risk of infection and bleeding. There are also risks associated with general anesthesia, but these are significantly lessened through constant, careful monitoring during surgery. After surgery, there is a slight chance of having difficulty swallowing. This is primarily due to swelling and inflammation, and it usually goes away without further intervention. During your consultation for this sleep apnea procedure, Dr. Volpi will discuss all of the risks and side effects associated with the procedure, and will take the time to clearly answer all of your questions.

If you are suffering from OSA or snoring and believe you may benefit from hyoid suspension, the first step is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor. Board certified physicians with New York ENT have extensive experience treating a variety of sleep disorders and breathing conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at 212-873-6036  to schedule an appointment today.

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