what is a uvulectomy

A uvulectomy is a surgical procedure in which all or part of the uvula is removed. The uvula is a bell-shaped organ that hangs from the top of the throat. There are a few different reasons a uvulectomy is performed including some rituals, but most are controversial. The uvula plays a small function in keeping the mouth moist, as it contains many salivary glands. It also plays a role in how we are able to articulate.

However, you most likely will not suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth) or be unable to articulate clearly after having a uvulectomy.

While it has not been proven totally effective, perhaps the most common reason for a uvulectomy in the United States is to assist in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. A uvulectomy may be performed alone or as part of a larger procedure called a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). The purpose of both procedures is to remove tissue that may be blocking the airway.

Hereditary angioneurotic edema (HANE) is another condition that a uvulectomy is sometimes used to treat. HANE is a rare disease in which the tissues fills with water. If the tissues in and around the throat become too swollen, a person with this condition can suffocate. The idea behind removing the extra tissue of the uvula is that this frees up more space and can prevent asphyxiation.

Other than for obstructive sleep apnea and HANE, a uvulectomy is uncommon in the western world and is more commonly practiced in African and Middle Eastern countries.