Electrical stimulation of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea

David W. Eisele, Alan R. Schwartz, Philip L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Electrical stimulation of the tongue musculature and the hypoglossal nerve can improve inspiratory airflow in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) without arousal from sleep. This article describes the authors investigations of electrical stimulation of the upper airway as potential therapy for OSA. In addition, the use of an implantable electrical pacing system for the treatment of OSA is presented. The electrical stimulation system consisting of a pulse generator with a microprocessor, a respiratory pressure sensor, and a tripolar nerve electrode placed on the hypoglossal nerve branch to the genioglossus muscle designed for OSA therapy is described. This nerve stimulation system has been well tolerated in patients with OSA and there have been no long-term complications related to chronic hypoglossal nerve stimulation with this system. Electrical stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve with this system can result in an effective reduction of the Apnea-Hypopnea Index in a majority of patients studied and its feasibility for therapy of OSA has been shown. From our investigations, we have concluded that electrical stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve appears to be safe and effective therapy for OSA in selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalOperative Techniques in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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