Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgical procedure to remodel the structures in your throat by removing them fully or partially. These structures are as follows:
- The whole of the uvula or its part (uvula is a soft flap of the tissue that hangs down at the back of the mouth just above the throat)
- Parts of the soft palate (the roof of the hind part of the mouth)
- Tonsils and adenoids
Why is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty done?
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is currently the most common surgery performed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the United States.
OSA is a sleep disorder that causes you to transiently stop breathing during sleep. It leads to problems such as daytime sleepiness, hypertension, and an increased risk of a stroke.
The most characteristic feature of OSA is snoring. It happens due to the intermittent collapse of the throat muscles blocking the airway while you are asleep.
Due to troubled breathing, OSA leads to a gradual fall in oxygen concentration. As a result, you experience choking spells that disturb your sleep.
If you are overweight, doctors will initially suggest incorporating lifestyle changes for weight loss. Additionally, they may prescribe you devices or machines such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) that help manage OSA symptoms. If all these conservative measures fail to provide you relief from OSA, your doctor may recommend a corrective surgery such as UPPP. You can also consider the surgery if you do not want to use the devices for OSA for a lifetime.
What are the possible complications of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty?
The risk of serious complications from uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) include:
- Bleeding or hematoma (pooling of blood) at the site of the surgery
- Wound infection
- Injury to the teeth/tongue/lips
- Velopharyngeal insufficiency (injury to the muscles in the throat and soft palate that can lead to velopharyngeal insufficiency; it causes liquids to come up into your nose when drinking)
- Mucus in the throat
- Speech changes (nasal voice)
- Post-procedural pain
How long does it take to recover from uvulopalatopharyngoplasty?
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) can be performed as an outpatient procedure. If your doctor wants to ensure that you can swallow, you may have to stay overnight in the hospital.
You will experience pain while eating and talking. To alleviate the pain, your doctor will prescribe you pain medications. Other things that can help alleviate the pain include:
- Drinking cool water or other liquids
- Application of ice packs to the outside of the neck
Recovery can take up to 3 weeks. You can resume school or office soon after you start feeling better. To speed up the recovery, you should
- Eat only soft foods and liquids for the first 2 weeks after the surgery. Avoid hard or crunchy foods such as chips.
- Rinse your mouth every time after meals with saline (saltwater) solution for the first week after the surgery.
- You may begin walking after 24 hours. You can resume your regular activities gradually day-by-day. Avoid vigorous exercises and lifting heavy weights for the first 2 weeks.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you feel feverish and weak.
- Go easy while cleaning the back of your throat. Don’t try to brush it because the activity could dislodge a scab and result in bleeding.
You may have a low-grade fever after the surgery and that’s OK. If the fever goes beyond 101°F, call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room.
You will have a follow-up visit with your doctor probably 2-3 weeks after the surgery.
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He M, Yin G, Zhan S, et al. Long-term efficacy of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty among adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019 Sep;161(3):401-411.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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succinylcholineSuccinylcholine is a skeletal muscle relaxant used for medical procedures done under general anesthesia, including tracheal intubation, mechanical ventilation, and surgeries. Common side effects of succinylcholine include postoperative muscle pain, jaw rigidity, muscle twitch (fasciculation), respiratory depression, cessation of breathing (apnea), low or high blood pressure (hypotension or hypertension), irregular heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias), slow or rapid heartbeat (bradycardia or tachycardia), cardiac arrest, increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia), severe life-threatening drug reaction with excessively high temperature (malignant hyperthermia), salivary gland enlargement, excessive salivation, rash, hypersensitivity reactions, and others.
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