Sleep Disorders: Sleep Apnea and Upper Stimulation Therapy

About Dr. Ryan Osborne

Ryan F. Osborne, M.D. is the Director of Head and Neck Surgery at OHNI and is an internationally renowned expert in head and neck oncology. He has developed a special interest for the treatment of parotid gland tumors and focuses on the use of minimally-invasive techniques in the care of patients needing parotid surgery.

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In a recent segment on NPR, the topic of sleep disorders was brought up. How can sleep problems affect more than our attention? How can sleep problems affect our health?

The story follows Michael Arnott, a 67-year-old former marathon runner, described as having a runner’s build. Indeed, his slim build was exactly why he didn’t think of sleep apnea as the cause of his daily fatigue. Arnott’s symptoms, included daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and falling asleep while driving.

His story is like that of many of those who have sleep apnea. Indeed, it was only when his spouse scheduled him for an evaluation that he pursued testing. The reason most sufferers delay examination, according to the story, is that they do not want to be told they need CPAP. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is known to be an uncomfortable machine, worn at night, to keep the airway open. Less than 50% of people who try this are able to comply with it.

This statistic is what makes upper airway stimulation (UAS) such a novel and exciting treatment option. Otherwise known as the “sleep pacemaker,” upper airway stimulation therapy by Inspire Medical Systems is a relatively new FDA approved treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. The therapy is similar to a pacemaker, sensing breathing and stimulating key muscles in the upper airway to prevent obstruction and preserve an open airway during sleep.

Implantation of the UAS device and sensing leads is a relatively quick procedure that is completed in the outpatient setting, allowing the patient to return to normal activities soon thereafter. Most importantly, it has eliminated the need for CPAP in all patients implanted at Osborne Head and Neck Institute.

sleep apnea treatment

This painless therapy is often not felt by the patient nor does it disturb the normal sleep cycle, allowing the patient to have a full night’s sleep. Aside from being highly effective, upper airway stimulation allows patients with obstructive sleep apnea to improve their quality of life while avoiding potentially dangerous health complications associated with sleep apnea.

treatment for sleep apnea

Upper airway stimulation therapy is an exciting development in the treatment of sleep apnea which has been proven to be effective and well tolerated by patients. This therapy provides a welcome alternative for those that are tired of dealing with suboptimal treatments and uncomfortable devices.

The first sleep pacemaker in the Western United States was implanted at Osborne Head and Neck Institute on November 17th, 2014. Followed by the second on November 18th, 2014. The patients have both gone on to have remarkable improvements after their uncomplicated surgery.

To learn more about Dr. Ryan Osborne, upper airway stimulation therapy, or to schedule a consultation for sleep apnea, please visit: