CPAP Alternative: What Is The Inspire Implant And Will It Cure My Sleep Apnea Without A CPAP Mask?

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Introduction

Forty percent of Americans snore and 10% of these snorers, or 15-20 million people have moderate to severe sleep apnea. If you snore, as I encourage all of my patients in my Houston office, it is a good idea to come to be evaluated to see if your snoring has progressed to sleep apnea. 

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea at a sleep medicine practice here in Houston you might be familiar with wearing a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask during sleep. 

Usually the initial encounter at a general sleep physicians office involves a physical and taking a detailed history and then a sleep study. Once you are diagnosed with significant sleep apnea, you are generally given a CPAP mask to wear. It is rare for the general sleep physician to check to see if you have a nasal obstruction before prescribing you a CPAP mask. 

While CPAP therapy is highly effective in treating sleep apnea, some individuals find it uncomfortable or inconvenient to use. The majority of these failures (50-80% of patients fail the CPAP mask in the first year) are due to a nasal obstruction. 

At Texas Sinus and Snoring in Spring, Texas, we specialize in diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea comprehensively.

 

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We always start with a complete physical evaluation including a CT scan and a Nasal Endoscopy to fully understand the nasal airway. 

We make sure you are a champion nasal breather and then address the options available depending on your sleep study scores. Remember that in general stuffy nights are bad nights no matter what method you choose to deal with the lower airway.

Once your nasal airway is open and functioning well you will be able to wear a CPAP mask more effectively. However, many patients seek other forms of treatment even though the mask is effective and functions maximally. 

Thankfully, there is an alternative option called the Inspire implant. This is my story exactly. I developed snoring and sleep apnea shortly after my 50th birthday. 

I underwent a nasal procedure and was able to wear the mask effectively and it changed my life for the better. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that I would have to wear a mask to bed every night for the rest of my life. 

I searched the literature for over a year and decided that the best way to cure sleep apnea without a mask was the inspire implant. I contacted the company, underwent their training and did the first inspire implant in the state of Texas. 

Since then I have performed nearly 300 and have a success rate 10% higher than the official success rate. In this article, we will discuss what the Inspire implant is, how it works, and whether it can provide a solution to your sleep apnea without relying on a CPAP mask.

Understanding Sleep Apnea:

Before diving into the specifics of the Inspire implant, let's first understand sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. These pauses can last for a few seconds to over a minute, and may occur multiple times throughout the night. Sleep apnea can lead to fragmented sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and various other health issues if left untreated. 

CPAP Therapy:

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. This involves wearing a mask over your nose connected to a machine that delivers a continuous stream of air pressure. The pressurized air helps keep your airway open, preventing pauses in breathing. 

While effective, some individuals may find the CPAP mask uncomfortable, noisy, or disruptive to their sleep. This is usually due to nasal obstruction and is easily diagnosed and treated by an ENT. Although it improves the use of the CPAP mask, many people still say they would rather not wear a mask.

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What is the Inspire Implant?

The Inspire implant is an innovative treatment option for individuals with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who struggle with CPAP therapy. It is an implantable device that works to open your airway during sleep, reducing or eliminating the need for a CPAP mask.

How does the Inspire Implant work?

The Inspire implant consists of three main components: a small generator, a breathing sensor, and a stimulation lead. The generator is placed under the skin in your chest, much like a pacemaker. The breathing sensor is located nearby, measuring your breathing patterns during sleep. Lastly, the stimulation lead is positioned around one of the nerves that controls your airway muscles. 

When you go to bed, you activate the Inspire implant using a handheld remote, similar to a TV remote control. The implant senses your breathing and delivers mild stimulation to the muscles responsible for keeping your airway open. Essentially it gives you a daytime airway even though you are sound asleep. This stimulation helps prevent the collapse of your airway, reducing the occurrence of sleep apnea events. 

Can the Inspire Implant cure my sleep apnea without a CPAP mask?

While the Inspire implant can significantly reduce sleep apnea events and provide relief for many individuals, it is important to understand that it is not a cure for sleep apnea. It is a long-term treatment option that aims to manage the condition and improve sleep quality.

How Do I qualify for the Inspire Implant?

Like all treatments in the current healthcare environment, it requires that you meet certain criteria. Most of these criteria are administrative (weight, current sleep study, appropriate sleep study numbers). However, the most important criteria is a Drug induced sleep endoscopy (DISE). This is a test that determines if the patient has anatomy that is compatible with the inspire implant.

At Texas Sinus and Snoring we provide all the necessary tests for patients with sinus disease, snoring and sleep apnea in the greater Houston area. We work hard to make sure that the diagnosis and treatment of your sleep apnea is as efficient as possible from the first visit to your last check up. 

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Benefits and considerations of the Inspire Implant:

- Mask-Free: The Inspire implant eliminates the need to wear a CPAP mask, allowing for more comfortable and natural sleep.

- Non-Disruptive: Unlike CPAP therapy, which relies on a constant airflow, the Inspire implant remains inactive during wakeful hours, so you can speak, eat, or drink without any interference.

- Compatibility: The Inspire implant is suitable for individuals with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who are unable to tolerate or effectively use a CPAP mask.

- Eligibility: Not everyone is a candidate for the Inspire implant. A thorough evaluation by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist is necessary to determine if you meet the criteria for this treatment option.

- Surgery and Maintenance: The placement of the Inspire implant requires a surgical procedure. Additionally, periodic follow-ups are necessary to monitor the device's function and adjust stimulation levels if needed.

Conclusion

If you live in the city of Houston and you have been diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, the Inspire implant offers an alternative treatment option for individuals who struggle with CPAP therapy.

By delivering mild stimulation to the airway muscles, the implant can help keep your airway open during sleep, reducing or eliminating the need for a CPAP mask. However, it is important to remember that the Inspire implant is not a cure for sleep apnea and does not replace other lifestyle modifications or treatments.

If you are interested in exploring this option, consult with Dr Ben Cilento (Instagram theSnoringDoctor) at Texas Sinus and Snoring if you live in Houston, Texas.