Jefferson University Hospitals

Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy

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An FDA-Approved Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and are unable to use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy or do not want to consider traditional surgery, there is a new FDA-approved alternative available at Jefferson.

Upper airway stimulation therapy is a small implanted device that senses your breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, keeping your airway open during sleep. No mask or oral appliance is required. This outpatient procedure, performed by Jefferson otolaryngologists, can reduce your sleep apnea events and significantly improve your quality of life.

What Does Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy Involve?

Upper airway stimulation therapy consists of three fully implanted components: a small generator, a breathing sensor and a stimulation lead. The implant procedure lasts over 2 hours under general anesthesia. You may be able to go home the same day after surgery.

You turn the therapy on before bed and off upon awakening using a small handheld sleep remote. It's that simple and easy to use.

Am I A Candidate for Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy?

You may qualify for this therapy if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea
  • Have either failed or not tolerated CPAP treatment
  • Do not have certain diseases or conditions that may disqualify you as a candidate

If you meet the basic criteria, a Jefferson sleep medicine specialist will evaluate the severity and type of your sleep apnea during a sleep assessment.

The next steps are to undergo an airway assessment and then a sleep endoscopy to determine the cause of your sleep apnea. A sleep endoscopy is a procedure in which your doctor examines your airway while you're under sedation to observe the potential blockage of breathing.

After these assessments, your sleep medicine doctor will determine if upper airway stimulation therapy is right for you.

Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy Recovery & Beyond

You may experience some pain and swelling at the incision sites for a few days but should be able to return to your daily nonstrenuous activities. Most patients have a full recovery within two weeks.

Your surgeon will examine you a week after surgery to ensure you are healing properly. Three to four weeks after implantation, you will have an appointment with your physician to turn the device on for the first time and personalize your therapy settings so that you are comfortable.

After using the device at home for a few months, you will return to your doctor for an overnight sleep study where your therapy settings may be adjusted or optimized. General checkups will occur one to two times per year.

The device's battery lasts an average of 10 years, and once depleted, it's replaced in an outpatient procedure.

Arrange a Consultation with a Sleep Specialist

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) or