Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been estimated to be prevalent in 25% of adults. The gold standard treatment for OSA is positive airway pressure machines (PAP). However, for those patients who have difficulty and cannot tolerate the machine, Inspire is an option. FDA approved in 2014, Inspire is now approved by most insurances as a treatment alternative for OSA in patients that meet certain criteria and cannot tolerate PAP.
The fully implantable device, hypoglossal nerve stimulator which projects the tongue forward automatically during sleep, is inserted during an outpatient surgical procedure under general anesthesia. Through an incision in the neck, an electrical cuff is placed around the hypoglossal nerve that stimulates the tongue to move forward in the mouth and back of the throat. Through a second incision in the chest, a sensing lead is placed into the chest wall that senses inspiration. After activation, when a patient is ready for bed, a remote is used to turn the device on and Inspire opens the airway and prevents its collapse.
Numerous scientific studies have been published showing this device effectively treats OSA and improves patients’ quality of life. Snoring improves, the number of upper airway events decreases, and patient satisfaction is generally very high. This innovative treatment for OSA is exciting and effective for patients who grow frustrated with the inability to tolerate positive airway pressure machines.