Forum · Surgical Options For Addressing OSA

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[-] GBerger +0 points · 4 months ago

Yesterday I had a sleep endoscopy performed to determine if I could qualify for the Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) Therapy offered by Inspire Medical Systems, Inc. In addition to providing the qualification data, the procedure also provides information regarding whether the blockage of my breathing is primarily at the palate and/or tongue regions and to determine which specific structures seem to be playing a major role in my airway obstruction.

UAS Therapy represents a option for a subset of patients with moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) who are unable to use CPAP. The UAS Therapy is a fully implanted system consisting of a small generator, a sensing lead & a stimulation lead. The single external component is a small handheld remote used to turn the system on before bed and off upon waking. Once activated, the system senses breathing patterns & delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, which keep the airway open during sleep. If successful, this therapy avoids the removal or permanent alteration of facial or airway anatomy.

One of the key qualifications to becoming a candidate for UAS Therapy involves a complete concentric collapse of the soft palate when the patient is in a sleep-like state. And that is what they were looking for during my sleep endoscopy yesterday. Unfortunately, during my procedure my surgeon observed a lateral wall collapse in addition to anteroposterior collapse of the soft palate, which disqualified me for UAS Therapy.

So, where does that leave me? Well, the next step is to consider additional surgical options which involve the alignment of the bones & tissue in the jaw, mouth & throat. The most common surgical options rearrange, reduce, or totally remove the tissue in the throat that is blocking your airway while you sleep. This tissue can be in the soft palate, which is at the back of the roof of your mouth; the uvula, your tonsils & adenoids, or your tongue. There are also surgeries that correct the alignment of the bones in the mouth, nose & face.

I'd like to hear from anyone who has had any of these types of surgeries & what their experience was like. Does anyone know what kind of success rates these types of surgeries usually yield? What are the risks involved when having these types of surgeries? I have an appointment with my ENT who performed my sleep endoscopy on May 24 and I'd love to have some data on hand when I speak to him about my options. Thanks in advance for any information anyone can provide me.

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[-] wiredgeorge +0 points · 4 months ago Sleep Enthusiast

There has not been much discussion of in-depth surgical issues on this board since I have been here. It may be difficult to find others in the the same or similar position you are so I would listen carefully to what the ENT recommends and ask him if he minded you getting a second opinion. If the two doctors have radically different opinions on treatment options, based on what you can read and elicit through self-education, you may be able to wade through the information to be able to make the best decision possible. Take care going to other sleep apnea boards as there are some where everyone seems to grant themselves amateur medical degrees and this type advice is almost worse than none at all. Good luck and I hope this works out for you.

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[-] GBerger +0 points · 4 months ago

Wiredgeorge, I see the ENT that performed my sleep endoscopy in two days (on Thursday). I plan on listening to what he recommends very carefully. I haven't had much of an opportunity to talk to him, since my sleep doctor referred me to an other ENT who ended up not being in my network & I had to cancel my originally scheduled procedure & quickly find another ENT in my network that would perform the procedure. I had a short window before the pre-op data became invalid, forcing me to have a new pre-op workup. I was trying to avoid that additional cost. So I don't know if he is going to try to motivate me to continue looking for a surgical option. My hope is that he will see some value in simply treating my sinuses & if he can help me with the, perhaps we could revisit the BiPAP or even explore APAP. I'm not terribly excited at the surgical options beyond the Inspire Sleep Therapy; unless he can convince me that the data he obtained from last week's procedure uncovered a very specific course of action involving a surgical procedure. I appreciate your suggestion regarding getting a second opinion. I think that is a very good idea in almost every medical situation. I'm also keenly aware of how to value the information I read on these sleep apnea boards. The way I see it, they are just one of the many sources for data & require validation & additional research. Thanks a gain for the input.

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[-] SleepDent +0 points · 4 months ago

I am a dentist working in dental sleep medicine. Before considering surgery, it might make sense to consider an oral sleep apnea appliance. Now, I know that there is an old wives tale that oral appliances can not be used with severe sleep apnea, but in many cases that is just wrong. The TAP family of appliances is generally recognized as the most effective for severe sleep apnea. They will do a very good job for about 54% of the patients and at least a minimally acceptable job for about 70%, so there is a fairly good shot at it. I have actually done successful oral appliances for a fairly large number of severe sleep apnea patients. Dr. Luisi

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[-] GBerger +0 points · 4 months ago

SleepDent, I did try an oral sleep apnea appliance but i did not get fitted by a dentist. A friend of mine who had been struggling with snoring for years, finally gave in to his spouse's demands and ordered a device online that was marketed as an anti-snoring device. It did wonders for him so I decided to give it a try. I ordered it online & when it arrived there was instructions explaining how to heat it up in water before placing it in my mouth & biting down on it with my jaw in a specific position to create an impression in the device. I used it and got some pretty good results the first couple of times that I used it but then a strange thing happened; it started becoming less & less effective, until I was back to snoring as badly as i was before I began using it. Based on my earlier experience, do you think it would be worth my while to revisit it only, this time under the guidance of a practicing dentist? Of course my other consideration is the cost. I have private (ObamaCare) insurances that leaves a lot to be desired. I have no dental or eye care any more.

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[-] SleepDent +0 points · 4 months ago

Hi again GBerger, The online boil and bite appliances are meant only to treat snoring and (maybe) the lowest end OSA. Your condition is far too severe for them to give you meaningful relief. The fact that you got even a brief positive response is encouraging. I think that you might benefit from trying a MyTAP device from Airway Management. It is highly effective against severe OSA and relatively inexpensive. I am talking about somewhere between $400 to $650 dollars. It has to be fitted and managed by a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine. If you use the "Find-A-Dentist" feature on their website, www.tapintosleep.com, you should able to find a suitable dentist near you. The device is not particularly strong and would probably last only one year or at most two, but it is good enough so that you could find out if an oral sleep apnea appliance could work for you. Dr. Luisi

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[-] GBerger +0 points · 4 months ago

Sleep Dent, First off thank you for responding to my post. I have a few questions and please understand that I have not done much research on dental appliances for treating OSA. My first question is can dental appliances be an effective means of treating OSA, even if a person has already tried CPAP & BiPAP, only to find them not tolerable? My second question is you stated that the MyTAP device from Airway Management is a candidate for an effective, yet relatively inexpensive treatment for my OSA. I don't have any dental insurance. Is there any chance that my private medical insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) might cover all or a portion of the cost? Thanks in advance for any additional information you can provide.

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[-] SleepDent +0 points · 4 months ago

The answer to your first question is, definitely, yes. Almost my entire practice consists of people who have tried CPAP, found themselves intolerant, and went on to the oral appliance and found success. It is my entire stock in trade. If you asked me what percentage of people came directly to me without first attempting CPAP, I would quesstimate it at no more than 15 per cent. The MyTap would not be reimbursable by medical insurance at this time because it does not fully meet their standards, primarily in terms of durability. They usually expect at least three year durability and the MyTAP doesn't have it. The regular TAP3 and DreamTap would meet it, but they are much more expensive, maybe in the $1400-$2800 range depending on dentist and area of the country. They might be partially reimbursable through Blue Cross depending on your policy and the dentist must be skilled at making medical claims because there is a very strict protocol that must be followed in terms of documentation and sequencing that must be followed to the letter. Dr. Luisi

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