Local Houston Surgeon Cures Sleep Apnea
A local surgeon has found a cure to sleep apnea, a disease that robs millions of Americans of a good night’s rest. People suffering with sleep apnea will stop breathing several times during the night.
Thelma Braxton was the very first person in Houston to receive a robotic surgery to cure sleep apnea. “It’s scary. It is so scary. When you sleep and your breath is being taken away it is scary,” she said.
But now that she is cured, she is almost giddy with praise for her doctor at UT Health Science Center.
“He’s my hero,” she laughed. “He is totally.”
Dr. Ron Karni is an ear, nose and throat cancer surgeon who uses a robot to cure sleep apnea patients—patients who have some kind of benign mass partially blocking their airway. With extremely flexible robotic arms and a camera on a scope, he can remove the blockage.
Before the robots, surgeons could not see very well deep in the airway to remove obstructions. Often they had to make incisions in the throat. Karni operates at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. He uses a special 3-D monitor to see. A 27-year-old woman was the second to have the surgery.
Karni invited us to view everything on another monitor. The operation happens very quickly, it only takes about 45 minutes. He said the side effects are minor.
“The sore throat is the same sore throat that a five-year-old would have if they had a tonsillectomy,” he said. Two weeks after her operation, Braxton felt like a new woman who was finally enjoying restful sleep.
“Wonderful, wonderful, I sleep all night, I mean, no problems jumping up,” she said.
Karni said insurance covers the operation.