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Procedures: Inspire Therapy (Upper Airway Stimulation)


Inspire Therapy is an FDA-approved, implantable device offering an innovative approach to treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). As a trailblazer in sleep medicine, Norelle Health’s Department of Sleep Medicine is proud to offer this state-of-the-art treatment to patients looking for an alternative to traditional methods like Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines. This in-depth guide aims to provide comprehensive information about the Inspire implant, its mechanism of action, benefits, risks, and its specific impact on sleep apnea.

What is Inspire Therapy?

Inspire Therapy utilizes a small, implantable device to deliver mild electrical stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the movements of the tongue. By stimulating this nerve, Inspire Therapy effectively keeps the airway open during sleep, reducing and potentially eliminating sleep apnea events.

Mechanism of Action

The Inspire implant system consists of three main components:

  • Stimulation Lead: This is the part that delivers the mild electrical stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve.
  • Sensing Lead: This component monitors your breathing patterns and adjusts the stimulation accordingly.
  • Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG): This acts as the device’s “brain,” controlling the stimulation levels and timing based on data received from the sensing lead.

The Inspire implant is usually activated via a handheld remote, allowing patients to turn the device on before sleep and off upon waking.

Who is Eligible for Inspire Therapy?

Candidates for Inspire Therapy typically meet the following criteria:

  • Diagnosed with moderate to severe OSA.
  • Unable to tolerate or benefit from CPAP.
  • Over 22 years old.
  • Not significantly overweight.

Benefits of Inspire Therapy

  • Less Invasive: Unlike traditional surgeries, Inspire Therapy involves a minimally invasive procedure.
  • Tailored Treatment: The device settings can be personalized for each individual, ensuring the optimal level of nerve stimulation.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: With better sleep quality, patients often experience improved mood, focus, and overall well-being.
  • Reduced Health Risks: Effective management of OSA can lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and other associated complications.

Risks and Considerations

  • Infection: As with any implantable device, there’s a risk of infection post-implantation.
  • Device Malfunction: Although rare, hardware malfunction or lead displacement can occur.
  • Discomfort: Some patients report mild discomfort or tongue twitching during initial adjustments.

What to Expect During the Procedure

  • Preparation: Detailed evaluations, including sleep studies and anatomical assessments, are performed prior to implantation.
  • Anesthesia: The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia.
  • Duration: The surgery usually takes approximately two hours.
  • Hospital Stay: An overnight hospital stay is generally recommended for monitoring.

Post-Operative Care

  • Initial Adjustment: The device is generally activated a few weeks after implantation to allow for healing.
  • Follow-Up Appointments: Periodic office visits are needed to adjust settings and monitor effectiveness.
  • Remote Control: Patients receive training on how to use the handheld remote control for the device.

Long-Term Outcomes

  • Sleep Quality: Studies have shown that Inspire Therapy can significantly reduce apnea episodes, leading to improved sleep quality and daytime functioning.
  • Maintenance: The device battery typically lasts around 11 years and requires surgical replacement when depleted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Inspire Therapy covered by insurance?
Insurance coverage varies, but many plans offer partial or full coverage for eligible patients.

Can I undergo MRI with an Inspire implant?
The latest version of the Inspire implant is MRI-conditional, allowing for MRI scans under specific conditions.

Meet Norelle Health

Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS is double board-certified in Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic Surgery and Reconstruction. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He treats many conditions,... Learn More »