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Sleep Apnea Implant Gets Another Boost

Study Finds Procedure Reduces Snoring in Majority of Patients
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 27, 2006 -- A new study bolsters evidence that a simple procedure taking just a few minutes in a doctor's office can make a big difference for millions of patients suffering from snoring or the related disease of sleep apnea.

The procedure is known as the Pillar Palatal Implant. The study found that 88% of patients undergoing the procedure had reductions in their snoring, and nearly two-thirds also reported feeling less sleepy during the day.

More than a third were cured of their sleep apnea. The results were roughly in line with previous studies about the implant's effectiveness.

Insurance and Implant Procedure

Edward Grandi, executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association, says health insurers should heed the studies and approve reimbursement of the procedure.

"Based on the studies that have come out, it's certainly as effective, or even more effective, than other surgical techniques," Grandi tells WebMD. "It should be approved as one more treatment modality."

Sleep apnea and loud persistent snoring are two of the most common sleep complaints. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to major health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. People with the disorder often snore, but not all snorers have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea that is caused by partial airway collapse is often due to weakening of the muscles of the soft palate; it results in episodes in which a person is unable to take a breath. Sleep becomes disrupted and daytime sleepiness becomes a consequence. Palate movement, or "palatal flutter," causes vibration, which results in snoring.

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