First FDA-approved implant for sleep apnea patients created in Minnesota

Image 1 of 2

The first ever FDA-approved implantable treatment has been made available for patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. And it was developed by Inspire Medical Systems, a company based in Maple Grove, Minn.

More than 18 million Americans suffer from moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

“Controlled by a patient sleep remote, the system includes a breathing sensor and a stimulation lead powered by a small battery,” the company stated. “During sleep, the system senses breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to the tongue and other soft tissues of the throat to keep the airway open.”

But the chest implant is only used as a last resort if CPAP masks or oral devices do not help sleep apnea patients, because it still is surgery. Yet doctors say the positive results outweigh any risk. And aside from replacing a tiny battery every decade, there's little upkeep.

University of Minnesota otolaryngologist Dr. Jennifer Hsia was the first local physician to implant the Inspire UAS therapy device. It's currently available at more than 60 medical centers across the U.S. and Europe, including the University of Minnesota.

According to the company, a recent study showed "significant" reductions in OSA severity among implanted patients.

For more information on the device, click here.