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Monday, July 6, 1998 Published at 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK

Health: Latest News

Microwave cure found for snoring

Somniplasty may help snorers and their partners to a good night's sleep

The BBC's Jane Hughes on the latest snoring treatment
A new treatment for snoring could spell the end of sleepless nights for many couples around the world.

Somniplasty is a new treatment being pioneered in a handful of hospitals and clinics in the USA.

Its advantages are that it is virtually painless, but it is so new that it is not yet clear how effective it is. And it is expensive at $3,000 an operation.

Patients are assessed overnight in a sleep clinic and, if deemed suitable for the treatment, go along to an ordinary doctor's surgery where the tissues of their soft palate are subjected to waves of radiation through a needle.


Their throat is numbed first and then the needle is inserted into the back of their mouth. It heats the soft palate tissue like a microwave.

[ image: Nathan Ganscher gets the somniplasty treatment]
Nathan Ganscher gets the somniplasty treatment
This causes the tissue which blocks sleep-time breathing to shrink. The treatment has to be repeated twice over several weeks, but surgeons claim it can cure snoring in some cases.

Surgeon Geffrey Ahn said: "Patient selection is very important. If properly selected by ear, nose and throat specialists, after thorough examination, then the majority of patients's snoring should improve after this procedure. Careful selection is the key."


One patient who is willing to try it out is Nathan Ganscher.

[ image: Dr Geffrey Ahn says the treatment can cure snorers]
Dr Geffrey Ahn says the treatment can cure snorers
He has been snoring for years, but has always resisted surgery.

His long-suffering wife, Alice, said: "He is not aware that he snores. He is not even aware that he is sleeping."

After years of being sent to sleep in another room, the couple are hoping somniplasty can solve their problems and give them both a good night's rest.

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