The only fellowship-trained sleep surgeon in North Carolina, otolaryngologist Emily Commesso, MD, joined Duke Health in September 2023. She arrives on the cusp of what she describes as an “explosion of innovation” in a field evolving to provide patients greater options to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for patients who have tried other things like the CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure] or oral appliances and are out of options,” she says. “There has been a greater focus on research in the past couple of decades to determine how we can improve these types of surgeries and what we can change to get better outcomes. We now have a wider variety of devices, as well as more nuanced surgical procedures.”
Commesso’s specialized training brings more advanced, tailored treatments to patients statewide dealing with sleep-related issues. Surgical treatments for OSA focus primarily on repositioning and opening the areas of the nose, as well as behind the palate and tongue to create more space or prevent airway collapse or blockage.
To refer a patient, call 800-633-3853.
Who to Refer
As an otolaryngologist, Commesso sees a wide variety of ear, nose, and throat patients. Commesso provides comprehensive care for patients who have been:
- Unsuccessful with the medical management of OSA and interested in exploring surgical options
- Diagnosed with OSA or snoring and may benefit from a thorough evaluation by an expert who can develop an individualized treatment plan
By collaborating with a multidisciplinary team of Duke Health specialists, Commesso says she can help ensure that patients get the care they need even if surgery is not an option.
“In addition to working closely with the sleep medicine team, I also collaborate with Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center and the bariatric surgery team when a patient’s sleep apnea is associated with obesity. Or, I may refer patients to our dental colleagues for an oral appliance or to colleagues that perform jaw surgery,” she says. “Having access to all of these various specialties is actually one of the amazing things about Duke.”