Healthcare Professionals

Pillar Procedure

For Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Pillar Procedure for Snoring and Sleep Apnea

The Pillar Procedure is an in-office snoring and sleep apnea treatment that uses minimally invasive palatal implants.

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What it is

About the Pillar Procedure

An estimated 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea1,2 that keep them and their bed partners from getting a good night’s sleep.3 Many have tried various snoring treatments and are often left frustrated.

Unlike other surgical snoring and sleep apnea treatments, the Pillar® Procedure is a simple technique you can perform in a single short office visit or in combination with other procedures. This minimally invasive treatment for snoring and sleep apnea is directed at the soft palate. Patients typically resume normal diet and activities the same day.

During the Pillar Procedure, three tiny polyester implants are placed into the soft palate. Over time, the implants – together with the body's natural fibrotic response – add structural support to and stiffen the soft palate. This reduces the tissue vibration that can cause snoring, and the palatal tissue collapse that can obstruct the upper airway and cause sleep apnea.

More than 45,000 people worldwide have been treated with the minimally invasive Pillar Procedure.

Causes of Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The vibration or collapse of the soft palate is a significant contributor to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. When tissue in the upper airway flutters or vibrates, it can cause snoring; obstructive sleep apnea occurs when tissue collapses and/or blocks the upper airway. Studies suggest that the soft palate is involved in more than 80% of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea patients.4,5

As muscles in the upper airway relax during sleep, unsupported or excess tissue in the back of the mouth and throat can collapse, thereby reducing the cross-sectional area of the airway. For a constant volume of inspired air, the air speed through the collapsed region must increase. Whenever there is an increase in air velocity, there is also a corresponding drop in pressure. This lower pressure leads to the creation of a lifting force similar to that of an airplane wing.

In the airway, this creates an imbalance of forces. The palate vibrates as the aerodynamic forces overwhelm the structural integrity of the palate, resulting in snoring sounds. When the negative pressure in the airway reaches a critical point, the combination of collapsible tissues and loss of muscle tone causes airway collapse or obstruction, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.


References

1

Brain Facts, A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System. Society for Neuroscience, 2008.

3

Beninati W et al. The effect of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea on the sleep quality of bed partners. Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 Oct; 74(10):955-8.

4

Katsantonis GP, Moss K, Miyazaki S, et al. Determining the site of airway collapse in obstructive sleep apnea with airway pressure monitoring. Laryngoscope 1993; 103:1126-1131.

5

Quinn SJ, Daly N, Ellis PD, Observation of the mechanism of snoring using sleep nasoendoscopy. Clinical Otolaryngology 1995:20(4);360-6.

How It Works

Implant Material

Imaging Studies

Aerodynamic Airflow

Computational Modeling