(HealthDay News) – An upper-airway stimulation device significantly reduces the severity of obstructive sleep apnea in patients who cannot receive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, according to a study published in the Jan. 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patrick J. Strollo Jr., MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Montefiore, and colleagues surgically implanted an upper-airway stimulation device (that unilaterally stimulates the hypoglossal nerve) in 126 patients (83% men; mean age, 54.5 years; mean body mass index, 28.4kg/m²) with obstructive sleep apnea who could not adhere to or accept CPAP treatment.

The researchers found that after 12 months there was a significant, 68% decrease in the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) score (from 29.3 to 9 events per hour), a significant 70% decrease in the oxygen desaturation index score (from 25.4 to 7.4 events per hour), a reduction in the effects of sleep apnea, and improved quality of life. Of 46 consecutive patients with a response who were randomly assigned to continue or withdraw from treatment, the AHI score remained similar to the nonrandomized phase among patients who continued treatment, but was significantly increased among patients who withdrew from treatment (25.8 vs. 7.6 events per hour).

“In this uncontrolled cohort study, upper-airway stimulation led to significant improvements in objective and subjective measurements of the severity of obstructive sleep apnea,” Strollo and colleagues conclude.

The study was funded by Inspire Medical Systems, the manufacturer of the upper-airway stimulation system used in the study.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)