Implants Help Snorer's Sleep
Sleep Apnea Patients Also Benefit From New Treatment
WebMD News Archive
The New Sleep Apnea Treatment continued...
"People with sleep apnea have no trouble breathing during the day,"
Loyola University Medical Center associate professor of otolaryngology Regina
P. Walker, MD, tells WebMD.
"They have very good airway flow when they are sitting up and standing,
and terrible airway when they are lying flat. What we do with this procedure is
try to recreate the muscle tone that is compromised when patients lie down.
Like when you suck something through a straw, the stiffer the straw, the less
likely it is to collapse."
Patients and Partners See Improvement
In the sleep apnea study, Walker and colleagues followed 53 patients treated
with the palatal implants at five centers around the country. At evaluation
three months after implantation, roughly three-fourths of the patients' bed
partners reported witnessing no evidence of sleep apnea.
Nearly 75% of patients and bed partners said they would recommend the
procedure to a friend or family member.
"The implants were as effective as other surgical treatments, but there
was much less pain and recovery time involved," Walker says. "From the
patient standpoint, it was easy."
The second study involved 25 patients who snored loudly night after night
but did not have sleep apnea. All the patients were treated at the Lahey Clinic
in Burlington, Mass.
Three months after getting the implants, 75% of the patients and 90% of
their bed partners reported that they would recommend the procedure.
Independent testing showed that snoring loudness declined significantly
following the surgery.
Researcher John Romanow, MD, FACS, tells WebMD that even though the implants
are rarely covered by insurance, patients often consider the $1,500 to $2,500
out-of-pocket costs well worth it.
Restore Medical, Inc., of St. Paul, Minn., the manufacturer of the palatal
implant, funded both studies.
Just as with standard surgery, all patients with sleep apnea and snoring are
not good candidates for palatal implants. Surgical treatments do not work well
in patients who are extremely obese, and implants are also not recommended for
people with very large tonsils.
Implants may be an effective option, however, for patients who are still
having problems after having traditional surgery, Walker says.
"I tell my patients that they don't have a lot to lose with this
procedure, other than some money," she says. "If it doesn't work, we
still have the other treatment options available to us."