Sleep-deprived sleep apnea sufferers have surgical alternatives if they struggle to treat their condition using mask-and-hose CPAP machines.
According to a news release, doctors at St. Luke’s University Health Network are the first to offer the new surgery in the region.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing at night when their throat muscles relax and their airways close. They wake up so often to start breathing that they feel tired in the morning, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Until now, CPAP machines have been the main treatment for sleep apnea. The acronym stands for “Continuous Positive Pressure”. The machine pumps air into the user’s nose and mouth through a mask and hoses.
Masks can be a hassle. It didn’t work for Laura Beiro, her 58-year-old dental assistant from Bethlehem who has sleep apnea.
“I found this machine very difficult. It’s never quite right. In fact, the distracting noise wakes me up,” she said in a St. Luke’s news release.
She is one of nearly 100 patients to undergo the new procedure since it was first proposed by Dr. Jarrod Keeler in September 2020.
Patients get an Inspire implant that monitors breathing and provides a gentle stimulation to open the airway at night. The patient uses the remote to turn her Inspire device on when she goes to bed and off when she wakes up.
“No masks or hoses, just a simple remote control,” the news release said.
Surgery requires several days of recovery at home. Pain and discomfort are minimal, according to the release.
Baylo suffered from sleep apnea for over 20 years.
“I had it for years without knowing it,” she said.
She returned to work in a few days and has been sleeping well for over a year since her surgery.
Keeler is the only surgeon in the region to be named Inspire’s Surgeon of Excellence, the release said. He became interested in surgery while studying facial plastic and reconstructive surgery on a fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Not everyone with sleep apnea is suitable for surgery. A diagnosis of moderate to severe sleep apnea is required and the patient must not be significantly overweight.
Recent FDA approval ensures that all devices are fully compatible with magnetic resonance imaging, Keeler said. Nearly all policies in the Lehigh Valley now cover Inspire Therapy, according to the release. Typical battery life for this device is 10+ years.
For more information on Inspire Therapy, please call the Keeler office at 610-628-1225.
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