At Canadian Sleep Surgery Clinic, Dr. Chau treats snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Each patient is different; therefore each surgery or treatment is just as unique. Dr. Chau provides a range of surgical procedures to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, tailoring treatments to fit your needs. We focus on finding the best results with the lowest risks – whether that means using minimally invasive local anesthetic procedure options or more involved surgeries that require a general anesthetic.
Produced during sleep, snoring is the sound created by typical vibrations of structures in the throat. While snoring can have important effects, it can also be a sign of serious problems like obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause sleepiness and fatigue during the day.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a syndrome that involves partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep. The blockage may occur anywhere from 5 to greater than 30 times per hour of sleep. Patients with OSA either have smaller airway dimensions or a more floppy airway with a greater tendency to collapse. Surgery, like other treatments, is aimed at enlarging and decreasing the collapsibility of the airway.
Some risk factors for sleep apnea include being male, gaining weight, race and ethnicity, and natural ageing. While snoring often comes from the back of the roof of the mouth (soft palate and uvula), treatment for sleep apnea depends on the patient’s anatomy. It’s vital to identify the causes in order to develop a personalized treatment plan. More than 1.3 million Canadians (1 in 25 men and 1 in 50 women) suffer from OSA and this number continues to grow, with estimates now being similar to that of asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.
A sleep study can help determine if loud snoring or other symptoms like sleepiness and fatigue are actually obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep studies are performed in a sleep laboratory or at home and can establish a diagnosis (snoring vs. sleep apnea) and determine treatment.
The end results of having repeated airway obstruction during sleep are related to significant stress on the heart, blood vessels, nervous system and brain when breathing is blocked. Snoring can also disturb the sleep of others, leading to their sleepiness and fatigue. OSA has been linked with:
High blood pressure
Daily headaches and poor concentration
Greater risk of car accidents
Permanent and irreversible brain damage
Most importantly, poor quality of life and increased mortality
To be a candidate for surgery, less invasive treatments must have been trialled, especially CPAP, as there is little-no risk associated with these options. Only patients who are not able to tolerate CPAP or other therapies and have appropriate anatomy are candidates for surgery. Other surgical procedures offered by Dr. Chau may require a trial of medical therapy prior to proceeding with surgical consent.
To find out if you are a candidate, you must be evaluated by Dr. Chau.
The pre-surgical evaluation would include:
A comprehensive history
Head and neck physical examination
Additional imaging or testing (for some surgical procedures, such as sinus surgery, it is important to have complete imaging of the surgical area)
This evaluation will give sufficient information to help in directing surgical therapy and in addressing the possibilities for treatment or clinical outcomes. This systematic medical and surgical review will support the establishment of the following guidelines:
Identify co-morbidity factors
Identify probable sites of obstruction
Determine sleep disorder type and establish severity
Decide urgency of treatment (urgent vs elective surgery)
Assess the risk/benefit ratios (patient dependent)
Dr. Chau is a general otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), therefore, we see patients for a variety of complaints. It is important to speak with your family physician or referring physician about what the most important issue you are having. A referring physician must perform a preliminary workup for the patient within his or her scope of medical practice with the available resources and ensure those results are available for Dr. Chau to review prior to initial consultation.
In some cases, Dr Chau will review the referral and based on the information received suggest or re-direct the referral to a colleague or alternate specialist. We do this to provide a more efficient referral process.
Dr Chau is accepting new patient referrals for adult and pediatric patients, including;
Snoring and sleep apnea surgery
Salivary and thyroid gland disorders
Head and neck masses
Cutaneous lesions of the head and neck
Otological (non-vestibular) disorders
As you may be aware, the prevalence of tinnitus in the general population is 16 percent. As it would be physically impossible to assess every patient with this symptom, the indications for a referral regarding tinnitus to an otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon should include unilateral symptomatology, pulsatile tinnitus, or a strong suspicion of otologic disease. Two thirds of tinnitus symptoms are caused by or moderated by non-ear related pathology such as TMJ dysfunction, bruxism, trigeminal neuralgia, muscle tension and neck related issues. Appropriate assessment and/or therapy by a dentist, massage therapist or physiotherapist may be useful for your patient also.
Patients who appear to be suffering from significant psychologic distress from their tinnitus may benefit from an assessment by a psychologist or psychiatrist. The Calgary Ear Centre has an Audiologist and Tinnitus Health Specialist, Suzanne McLaren, who is part of the multidisciplinary ear team. Bow River Hearing is also developing a tinnitus management course for patients and have staff who speak multiple languages.
Consultations are given higher priority if referred by a neurologist, otolaryngologist, neurosurgeon, or vestibular physiotherapy. Please consider referral to the Neurovestibular program at the South Health Campus, also know informally as the "Dizzy Clinic".
Another option would be a vestibular/balance assessment for your patient by a vestibular physiotherapist at a physical therapy clinic in your community (eg. LifeMark Physiotherapy, Panther Sports Medicine etc.), as they will be able to determine if a peripheral vestibular disorder can be identified.
The underlying cause of the majority of chronic nasal and sinus problems (specifically chronic rhinosinusitis) is related to an inflammatory response made in the nose and sinuses. This will lead to nasal congestion, reduction in sense of smell, thick nasal discharge and occasionally facial pressure. Our dry environment in Southern Alberta
can increases symptoms and contributes to inflammation, causing increased mucous production. Stagnation of these secretions changes our bodies reaction to the normal bacteria in our nose and the thick, dry muscus we make from living here makes it difficult to clear the secretions quickly enough. This is why many people feel better when they are away from Calgary and will sometimes get better with recurrent courses of antibiotics - unfortunately, recurrent antibiotic courses may lead to bacterial resistance.
Treatment of nasal inflammation includes: