Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

"We are the first center in Spain to implant the hypoglossal nerve stimulator and we have more than 30 patients with excellent results".


La Unidad del Sueño ha sido reconocida por la Sociedad Española del Sueño.

What is sleep apnea?

The obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a common disease and carries certain risks for its possible secondary complications (road accidents, cardiovascular disease ...).

It is easy to diagnose and generally responds positively to treatment. The management of the patient with OSAS should be multidisciplinary, with doctors from different specialties.

A patient has OSAS when he presents during sleep repetitive episodes of apnea/hypopnea (complete interruption or at least 50% of airflow for a minimum of 10 seconds) and symptoms derived from sleep fragmentation.

We have more than 20 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders and we have the latest technological advances.

You will be attended by a multidisciplinary team, the Sleep Unit, integrated by departments such as Pneumology, Neurology, Otolaryngology, Endocrinology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Neurophysiology.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The most characteristic signs often referred to by the patient's companion are

  • Snoring.
  • Breaks of apnea.
  • Excessive body movements.
  • Changes in personality.
  • Somniloquia (sleep talking).

For its part, the symptoms that are usually noticed by the patient are:

  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Nocturnal drowning.
  • Morning headache.
  • Loss of intellectual capacity.
  • Frequent nocturnal urination (more than twice).
  • Dryness oropharyngeal
  • Restless sleep.

Learn about obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (only in spanish)

The consequences are daytime hypersomnolence, poor work performance, increased traffic accidents, stroke, ischemic cardiomyopathies and pulmonary hypertension (PTH).

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

Airway obstruction above the height of the palate and the base of the tongue may be due to various factors:

  • Small jaw or maxilla.
  • Nasal obstruction.
  • Very large and flaccid palate.
  • Base of the tongue too thick.

Factors predisposing to sleep apnea

There are predisposing factors for developing this problem, such as anatomical problems of the upper airway (poor nasal ventilation, pharyngeal disorders with excessive size of the structures that form them), maxillofacial malformations or kyphoscoliosis and general medical problems such as obesity, some endocrine disorders, neuromuscular disorders, etc.

How is OSAS diagnosed?

When you come to the Clinica Universidad de Navarra to find out whether or not you suffer from OSAS, the specialists of the Sleep Unit and the entire multidisciplinary team involved will make the diagnosis by means of a sleep study, a polysomnographic study.

This is done during sleep, recording apneas and hypopneas, the phases of sleep, the electrocardiogram (ECG) to see the rhythm and frequency of the heart, and the thoracic-abdominal movements. The study requires sleeping one or two nights in the Clinic.

Thus the distribution of phases 1,2,3,4 and REM is known, the duration of the sleep and the presence of peculiar episodes. 

In addition, it may be necessary to perform other tests:

  • Evaluation by the Department of Otorhinolaryngology.
  • Analytical (hemogram, thyroid function tests, renal function tests, etc.).
  • Arterial blood gas.
  • Pulse oximetry.
  • Spirometry.
  • Actigraphy.
  • Multiple latency test, which consists of the study of the latency of entry into sleep and entry into REM phase. To do this, the patient is put to sleep in 5 naps, 2 hours apart, during the day.

How is sleep apnea treated?

The decision to treat and the most appropriate treatment for each patient depends on the severity of the symptoms, the results of the sleep study, the magnitude of the complications and the cause of the upper airway obstruction.

The treatment in general consists of:

  • General measures that should always be applied to all patients with OSAS. The most important are weight loss, eliminating alcohol intake at night, sleeping in lateral position, and avoiding anxiolytic and sedative medication.
  • Medical treatment: CPAP. It is a device that keeps the airways open by applying continuous positive pressure in such a way that it "pushes" the airway allowing air to pass. It can solve the OSAS in 80% of cases.

This treatment consists of electrical stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve, the nerve responsible for tongue movement. By stimulating it, the base of the tongue and the palate of the patient are pushed forward, preventing the blockage of the airway and allowing the entry of air during sleep.

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation therapy allows effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, without the need to use a mask or the disadvantages of using CPAP.

Surgery in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome should be used as a good alternative, both in cases of snoring and in different levels of OSAS.

The Clínica Universidad de Navarra, with more than 20 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders, has the latest advances in detecting and resolving these alterations.

You will be attended by a multidisciplinary team, integrated by departments such as Pneumology, Neurology, Otolaryngology, Endocrinology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Neurophysiology.

Surgery is the definitive solution for sleep apnea syndrome. The Clínica Universidad de Navarra is a pioneer in Spain in robotic surgery by oral cavity.

It is an innovative surgical system, using robotic surgery. Thanks to the precision of the Da Vinci robot and its three arms, which introduce a camera, tweezers and an electro-scalpel into the patient's mouth, and which is directed by a surgeon with specialized knowledge, it is possible to extract the remaining tissues without open procedures.

This successful technique resolves 90% of obstructive sleep apneas.

Where do we treat it?


The Sleep Unit
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Accredited by the Spanish Sleep Society, the Clinic's Sleep Unit has the latest advances in diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

The joint work of the different medical and surgical disciplines that integrate the Unit of the Sleep of the Clinica does that every patient can be attended approaching his problem of global form, collaborating, if it is necessary, for different specialists.

Diseases we treat

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • We have the best facilities to perform sleep studies.
  • Nursing specialized in these disorders for their care and follow up.
  • State-of-the-art technology and a highly specialized team.

Our team of professionals

Sleep Unit specialists with expertise in sleep apnea treatment