Inspire treats sleep apnea with implanted device and remote control

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Patients with sleep apnea are often treated by a CPAP machine while they sleep, but many experience difficulties with it.

But now, another option is available.

The Inspire device is operated by a remote control shortly before bedtime. (Submitted photo)

Inspire uses a small pulse generator implanted in the chest during a surgery at IU Health North in Carmel to help remove airway obstructions when the patient is sleeping. 

“It’s really one computer piece that gets implanted just under the skin in the chest,” Dr. Noah Parker of the Voice Clinic of Indiana said. “It’s got two wires and an electrode that is placed down in the chest. That senses breathing, then the other wire gets placed around the nerve that moves the tongue.”

Kathy Mitchell was diagnosed with sleep apnea as a teenager. She tried to use a CPAP twice, but then she consulted with her doctor about Inspire. She is one of 19 patients who have had the pulse generator implanted in the chest during a surgery at IU Health North.

Patients turn on the device shortly before they go to bed with a small remote control. The device sends an electrical pulse to move the tongue forward, clearing the obstruction.

Patients who suffer from sleep apnea can experience multiple complications.

“Sleep apnea causes more issues than just snoring. We have seen cardiac side effects from it—heart attacks, strokes and hypertension,” said Dr. Shalini Manchanda, who works at the IU Health Medicine Sleep Clinic.

Mitchell credits the device with saving her life.

“I just think it’s a godsend. I want people to know about it,” she said. “It’s made a world of difference in how I sleep and how I feel. I’m just so glad I did it. It’s phenomenal.”

To learn more, visit iuhealth.org/find-medical-services/sleep-disorders.

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