A New Sleep Apnea Surgery Option

By Kim Wetmore

Not every patient who embarks on CPAP therapy is successful.  Even with the valuable resources of the doctor, the nurses at your medical equipment company, and even an online community of those who are going through what you are may still not help you get used to wearing a mask at night while you sleep that will help you breathe better.  For those of us who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy there needs to be other options.  Believe it or not, surgery is worth considering if you have researched every other option and have not found the right one for you.

Recently, a new surgery has been developed that is being nicknamed the “pacemaker for the tongue.”  This device is actually called the hypoglossal nerve stimulator.  It is a small, 4-centimeter-by-4-centimeter box resembling a pacemaker with two wires attached. The device is implanted under the skin of the chest.  One wire is attached to muscles in the chest and the second is attached at the base of the tongue.  The chest wire senses when the patient breathes, and the device sends a signal to the tongue not to block the airway.  The wires are so thin, they are not noticeable.

Dr Mas Takashima, director of the Sinus Center at Baylor College of Medicine is the first surgeon in Houston to use the new device in surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital.  Previous to implanting the hypoglossal nerve stimulator, Dr Takashima used the airway widening form of sleep apnea surgery.  He says, “It’s very painful to speak, swallow, cough or talk,” Often, he said, “patients lose 15 or 20 pounds in recovery because eating hurts too much.”

With this surgery, there is no need for the non-surgical treatment method of the CPAP machine.  As well, it is equipped with a remote that allows it to be turned off during the daytime and also has a timer that makes is possible to have the stimulator begin working an hour after the user decides to go to sleep.  “It’s a different and unique take on how to approach sleep-apnea patients,” Takashima said.

However, CPAP still remains the most common and most effective way of dealing with Sleep Apnea without any risk of surgery. If you are looking to get CPAP Supplies through insurance, please let us know and we will be happy to help! You can give us a call at (888) 345-1780 or you can fill out our “Qualify Through Insurance” form, here.



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