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What is a Sleep Apnea Implant?

Posted On March 26, 2014
sleep apnea implant
March 26, 2014

Ah! Too be able to snore no more. That would be a wonderful thing. Then and only then, might you be allowed to return to your side of the marital bed, and not be camped out night after night on the couch in the family room. Is it possible? You heard some chatter while waiting in line at the local Starbucks about sleep apnea implants that helped stop snoring. Fiction or truth? What exactly is a sleep apnea implant?

Sleep Apnea Implants

Firstly, it is important to understand obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition is characterized by an obstruction in the sufferer’s airway that results in multiple pauses in breathing during the course of a night’s sleep. Snoring is a hallmark of sleep apnea due to the vibrations that occur when the obstruction moves close to the soft palate. Therefore, the theory is that when sleep apnea implants are placed in the soft palate it helps reduce the incidence of snoring.

But first, a proper diagnosis of sleep apnea is needed, which can occur after a sleep study (lab or at-home) is done. If sleep apnea implants are determined to be the appropriate treatment option for your sleep apnea condition, the procedure is fairly simple. Anywhere from three to five implants are inserted into the soft palate during the in-office visit using local anesthesia. The implants are made of braided polyester rods and measure approximately 18 millimeters or ¾ inch in length.

After a couple of months post implantation, the tissue around the implants in the soft palate stiffens, which results in a decrease in vibration and lowers the incidence of snoring.

Short-term Vs. Long-term Results

After the initial introduction of sleep apnea implants, a study looked at their success rate in the treatment of snoring. Researchers found that less than 50 percent of test subjects were helped by the implants in treating both snoring and sleep apnea. Results of a study published a couple of years later in the Journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery used randomly assigned treatment with three palatal implants including a placebo implant to demonstrate that overall effectiveness was limited and further study was needed.

Published in the European Archives of Otorhinolaryngology, another group evaluated the long-term results of using sleep apnea implants for OSA. After 32 months, 52.2 percent of study participants had long-term success with implants as their treatment for snoring and mild sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea and would like to explore available treatment options, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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