Inspire Medical Systems, a spin-out of Medtronic, has developed an implantable electronic stimulator for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and now implanted it in a first patient. Because muscles in the upper airway relax more than necessary in some OSA patients, the passage gets blocked and air can’t flow repeatedly during sleep. The company’s Inspire II System applies an electric current to the hypoglossal nerve at proper times by sensing the pulmonary pressure of the patient. Of note, Inspire Medical has received FDA approval for the device.
More about the device from the product page:
The Inspire II system consists of an implantable pulse generator, a pulmonary pressure sensor and a stimulation lead that delivers the electrical impulses to the patient’s hypoglossal nerve. The hypoglossal nerve is the twelfth cranial nerve that is located along the side of the neck and leads to the tongue. The unique closed-loop design of the Inspire II system senses a patient’s respiratory effort during sleep and provides hypoglossal nerve stimulation to maintain an open airway synchronous with respiration. Patients have a programming device that is used to turn the device on at bedtime and to turn the unit off during non-sleep periods. The stimulation delivered is sufficient enough to evoke a response from the nerve but at a low enough level to not disturb the patient’s sleep. A physician controller unit, used during visits to the patient’s treating physician, is used to monitor the therapy and make adjustments to the device as needed for the patient’s unique physiology