Who Is Inspire for Sleep Apnea Right For?

Inspire is not available to everyone, and the biggest factor is in the candidacy criteria.

Inspire is a newer treatment solution for people whose obstructive sleep apnea has not been helped by CPAP treatment, and the lack of adequate air at night continues to affect their daily lives in multiple ways.

The results of Inspire are impressive:

  • 90% of recipients have stopped snoring
  • 79% have fewer sleep apnea events
  • 94% are satisfied with the results – less daytime fatigue and fewer associated medical issues
  • 96% say Inspire is better than CPAP

Watch some of the many patient testimonials here.

But Inspire is not available to everyone, in spite of these numbers, and the biggest factor is in the candidacy criteria, which I will discuss below.

You Might Be a Candidate for Inspire

The following four factors must be met if you are to even be considered for an Inspire implant:

  1. You have been diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
  2. You have been unable to find adequate relief from using a CPAP machine.
  3. You are not in the obese weight category.
  4. You are over the age of 18.

Severity of sleep apnea: We typically don’t do surgery for mild sleep apnea, only moderate to severe, with an apnea hypopnea index (AHI) – the grade of the severity of your sleep apnea –greater than 15.

BMI: You have to have a BMI of less than 35. Check your BMI here.

CPAP experience: You have to have tried CPAP and been deemed intolerant – you either returned the machine because you couldn’t use it, or you used it for fewer than five days per week because it was too uncomfortable to use, or it didn’t work as well as you had hoped.

This is more common than you might think, considering CPAP has been the gold standard for decades. Studies show that about 50% of people who use a CPAP machine for obstructive sleep apnea can’t tolerate it or can’t get consistent benefit from it.

Having to wear a mask over your face and have the loud sound of a CPAP machine on all night can certainly become intolerable for the wearer and one’s partner.

Interested in an alternative to CPAP treatment? Schedule a consultation with one of East Tennessee’s sleep apnea experts.

If You Meet the First Four Criteria for Inspire

The next step to take is a sleep test. You must pass a sleep endoscopy to ensure your throat obstructs at a location that would be improved with Inspire. If your most recent sleep study was performed more than 3 years ago, your insurance company will also require an updated study that can be done in the sleep lab or at home.

For the sleep endoscopy, we insert an IV and you drift off to sleep with IV medication while breathing on your own – to replicate your sleep state. Once we start to notice episodes of obstruction, we insert a tiny camera through your nose and look down the back of your throat to see where the obstruction is occurring.

If you pass that sleep study, then you are officially a candidate.

Covering the Cost of Inspire

At that point, we get your surgery approved by insurance, and after we hear back from the insurance company, we schedule the surgery.

We have found that insurance companies usually approve the treatment once you’ve passed all the candidacy checks and sleep test, including Medicare. You will still have to pay your deductible and copays, the amount of which will depend on your insurance plan.

Veterans can have the Inspire implant once they get approval to receive treatment outside of the VA system.

Inspire Surgery and Follow Up

The surgery is an outpatient procedure – you go home the same day. It takes about an hour to put in, and it is a relatively short procedure that is generally well tolerated. You go home with a prescription for antibiotics and pain medications, along with a follow-up appointment with me a week later.

Your implant is activated one month after implantation.

Consult with a Sleep Apnea Expert in East Tennessee

If you’ve been struggling with sleep apnea that has not been helped sufficiently by CPAP treatment, schedule a consultation with ENTCET. One of the reasons to see an ENTCET specialist is that we are one of the top clinics for sleep apnea treatment in the state.

Book your appointment here. We’ll review your candidacy and recommend the next steps you need to take to switch to Inspire.

If you have any questions about Inspire and the treatment process, contact us. We look forward to helping you find relief for your sleep apnea.

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Jaron Densky, M.D.

Jaron is a native of Morristown, TN and is honored to serve as an otolaryngologist in his home state. He is a lifelong Tennessee Volunteer and has deep roots in the East Tennessee region. He provides expert-level comprehensive ENT care to the community and has a specific interest in treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea. He appreciates the importance of listening and tailoring a care plan to each patient’s particular needs. He believes that optimal treatment is delivered when the provider and patient are making decisions together. His extracurricular activities include spending time with his wife and daughter, reading, mountain biking, cycling, and running.

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