Tongue suspension

An evidence-based review and comparison to hypopharyngeal surgery for OSA


  • Disclosures: Philips (E.HAMANS); ApniCure (A.N.G.); Siesta Medical (E.HANDLER, A.N.G., S.M.). The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



Our first objective was to perform a systematic review of suture-based tongue suspension procedures as a stand-alone therapy for hypopharyngeal obstruction in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A second objective compared outcomes of tongue suspension as part of a multilevel approach to OSA surgery to genioglossus advancement (GA) with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), and to genioglossus advancement with hyoid suspension (GAHM) with UPPP.

Study Design

Systematic review.


The PubMed database was queried for English-language studies published after 1997 to create four cohorts: tongue suspension alone, tongue suspension with UPPP, GA + UPPP, and GAHM with UPPP. Chi-squared test was used to compare outcomes between cohorts.


Twenty-seven studies were included, broken down into cohorts based on our selection criteria. Six studies qualified for the tongue suspension-alone group with a surgical success rate of 36.6%. Eight studies qualified for our cohort of tongue suspension with UPPP with a surgical success rate of 62.3%. Eighteen studies qualified for our remaining two cohorts: GA + UPPP, and GAHM + UPPP. Their surgical success rates were both 61.1%. A chi-squared test to compare surgical outcomes showed that there was no difference between tongue suspension with UPPP, GA + UPPP, and GAHM + UPPP.


Tongue suspension is effective and safe as part of a multilevel surgical approach for patients with OSA. As a stand-alone procedure, its success rate is 36.6%, comparable to UPPP procedures for OSA success rates across the board. Tongue suspension should be considered in patients with OSA who demonstrate tongue base obstruction.

Level of Evidence

4. Laryngoscope, 124:329–336, 2014