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Your Sleep Apnea Treatment Center for the DC/MD/VA Metro Area

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What is the RFA Procedure

Start by watching this short video

What is RFA? Radio frequency Ablation:

  • A non surgical treatment option for sleep apnea
  • It is intended for individuals who cannot tolerate the CPAP mask, or in whom CPAP is ineffective
  • The base of tongue region is a common site of airway obstruction in apnea patients, and RFA is a technique to prevent the base of tongue from obstructing the airway
  • Small amounts of radiofrequency heat energy are applied to the base of tongue, resulting in volume reduction of that part of the tongue, and a decrease in tongue floppiness.
  • The RFA procedure prevents the tongue from falling backwards and obstructing the airway.
Fig-2-with-labels

Radiofrequency energy delivered to the base of the tongue

How is RFA performed?

  • Logistically performing the RFA procedure is similar to having a dental procedure done.
  • The patient drives to the office.
  • The tongue region is anesthetized and with the patient awake
  • Radiofrequency heat energy is applied to the tongue base without pain.
  • The procedure is very well tolerated by patients
  • The patient drives themselves home.

What is the RFA procedure recovery like?

  • There is usually 1-2 days of mild throat discomfort which is readily controlled with over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Aleve.
  • Sometimes stronger prescription medications are used.
  • There is no limitation in diet, activity or exercise.
  • Patients usually return to work the next day, resume their regular diet, and may continue their usual exercise regimen.

How long does the RFA procedure take?

The RFA procedure used to be done once, under general anesthesia.   Now we are able to perform the procedure awake in the office setting. Less RF energy is delivered in this setting, and this results in:

  • Less pain
  • Better patient tolerance
  • Fewer risks and side effects.

How many treatments, and how long?

  • We are generally recommending approximately 6 treatments, with about one month separating each treatment.
  • The initial treatment takes about one hour. Subsequent treatments take about 30 minutes.

“With a track record dating back to 1997, RFA effectively cures or improves apnea in a very safe manner, is performed in the office without surgery or cutting, is very well-tolerated without down-time, and is covered by major insurance carriers. Effectiveness, safeness and insurance coverage make RFA a very attractive sleep apnea treatment option.”     -Thomas Winkler, M.D.

About Us

If you or someone you know is in need of a better night’s sleep, contact us for a no obligation consultation. We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems.  We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAPRadio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.