Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea can now qualify for a procedure using a surgically implanted device they can activate with a device similar to a TV remote
WASHINGTON – More than 6% of Americans will have a case of sleep apnea in their lifetime, so sleepless nights, gasping for air during sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness are all familiar symptoms for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is the most common treatment for OSA, but many patients find it ineffective or uncomfortable. Now, there is a reliable alternative for patients who cannot tolerate their CPAP. Both MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center offer the Inspire® Sleep Apnea Implant, a surgically implanted device that treats sleep apnea in patients who suffer from moderate or severe sleep apnea and cannot tolerate CPAP.
"We often see patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who have stopped using or are unable to tolerate CPAP and are looking for an alternative to treat their sleep apnea,” said Stanley Chia, MD, chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “Nearly one in every 15 Americans struggles with sleep apnea, and the most common treatment, CPAP therapy, only has an acceptance rate of about 50%. Being able to offer Inspire therapy at MedStar Health represents our commitment to helping advance new, innovative options for treating sleep apnea.”
The implant works in tandem with a person’s natural breathing process, delivering mild stimulation to key airway muscles whenever necessary, allowing the airway to remain open during sleep. The implant is controlled by a small handheld sleep remote, which patients activate right before they go to bed each night.
“We’re excited to offer this promising therapy to sleep apnea patients who have had difficulty controlling their sleep apnea with CPAP,” said Mark Russo, MD, a board-certified otolaryngologist who performs sleep surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “When not treated properly, sleep apnea can lead to daytime tiredness, even if you feel like you got a full night’s sleep, loud snoring, and even feelings of anxiety. With Inspire, patients get the implant as an outpatient procedure, and they can go home the same day and experience relief soon after the implant is turned on.”
The Inspire device is implanted during an outpatient surgical procedure using general anesthesia. It is placed beneath the skin and the procedure takes about two hours. Most patients return home the same day and take over-the-counter pain medication as needed. They resume non-strenuous activities within a few days of the procedure and are then able to resume normal strenuous activities within a couple of weeks.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects more than 22 million Americans, and when left untreated, OSA can cause vehicle and workplace accidents, worsening mood and memory, stroke, or heart attack. It occurs when the airway collapses during sleep and blocks the flow of oxygen to the brain. The brain senses a lack of oxygen and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath, then falls back asleep. This cycle repeats throughout the night and causes poor, disruptive sleep.