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Inspire Sleep Apnea Treatment

Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation

For a Mask-Free, Quiet, and Comfortable Night’s Sleep

Boulder Medical Center ENT Specialists and BCH Foothills Hospital are the first in Boulder County to offer Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation. This innovative treatment offers an alternative for patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who can’t tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Inspire is a minimally invasive surgical alternative that uses an implanted device to monitor your breathing and keep your airway open while you sleep.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when muscles at the back of the throat, mainly the tongue or soft palate, temporarily relax while you’re sleeping. When these muscles relax, the airway becomes narrowed or closed, causing you to stop breathing for brief moments during sleep repeatedly.

If left untreated, OSA increases your risk for several severe conditions, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, dementia, and type 2 diabetes.

An Implantable, No-Mask Treatment Option

CPAP – a bedside pump that pushes a stream of air into a mask to keep the airway open while a person sleeps — has long been the gold standard treatment for OSA. However, many people struggle with making the CPAP mask comfortable to wear, hearing the all-night noise of the machine, or getting consistent benefit from the treatment. Current research suggests that only about 60 percent of people use CPAP as prescribed.

A mask-free alternative, Inspire uses an implantable device (similar to a pacemaker) to monitor every breath you take, and based on your unique breathing patterns, it delivers mild stimulation to a nerve that controls muscles at the back of your throat. By stimulating these muscles, the system keeps your airway open during sleep. Then, with a handheld remote, you turn the device on before bed and off when you wake up. It’s that simple and easy to use.

Benefits of Inspire Treatment

Inspire therapy is very successful. As of October 2020, there have been more than 100 peer-reviewed publications on Inspire therapy. These publications show that patients using Inspire therapy experience significant benefits:

  • 79% reduction in sleep apnea events, resulting in a healthier, restful night’s sleep
  • 94% of people are satisfied with Inspire
  • 96% of patients say Inspire is better than CPAP and would recommend Inspire to others
  • Reduced snoring, with 90% of bed partners reporting no snoring or only soft snoring
  • Improved daytime functioning from better sleep

Candidates for Inspire Treatment

Inspire is a second-line therapy for people who can’t tolerate or don’t benefit from CPAP and for whom there are no other alternatives. You may be a good candidate for Inspire if:

  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • Your AHI (apnea-hypopnea index) is between 15 and 65 (moderate-to-severe)
  • You are not significantly overweight, meaning your body mass index is lower than 35

If you meet all these eligibility requirements, your physician will confirm that Inspire therapy is right for you with an airway assessment and a sleep endoscopy, which examines your airway while you’re under sedation.

What You Can Expect with Inspire Treatment

If you qualify, you will undergo a minimally invasive procedure in which your physician will place the Inspire system under the skin of your neck and chest through two small incisions — all in an outpatient setting. Patients go home the same day with no dietary restrictions.

Approximately one month after surgery, you will return to your physician to activate the system. Then, about 10-12 weeks later, you’ll undergo a routine sleep study to optimize the device to your unique breathing patterns.

General checkups will occur one to two times per year. But once implanted, you’ll have Inspire for life – a simple swap-out procedure to replace the battery will be needed about every ten years.

Call (303) 440-3073 to Schedule a Consultation

Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) at Boulder Medical Center


Mark Hunter, MD


Angela Paddack, MD

Angela Paddack, MD  |  Mark Hunter, MD

Board-certified otolaryngologists Mark Hunter, MD, and Angela Paddack, MD, offer the full range of ear, nose, and throat care for adults and children.

  • Sleep Apnea and Snoring, including Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation therapy
  • Ear Conditions and Diseases
  • Hearing Testing and Disorders
  • Nose and Sinuses
  • Disorders of the Voice and Throat
  • Head and Neck Masses and Tumor
  • Throat Problems such as Tonsillitis and Hoarseness
  • Nasal and Sinus Problems Including Nasal Obstructions, Sinus Infections, Nosebleeds
  • Non-Invasive, Minimally-Invasive, and Surgical Treatments