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Surgical Care

Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy

Inspire treats sleep apnea at ChristianaCare with our novel approach.

Inspire – a New Mask-Free Way to Treat Sleep Apnea

If you or someone you love struggles to sleep because of sleep apnea, you’re not alone. About 18 million Americans suffer from the condition. Many use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Unfortunately, they don’t work for everyone – and they can be awkward to use.

Good news! There’s a remarkable new way to treat sleep apnea available at ChristianaCare.  Its’ called Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy.

Inspire, a tiny device that can help you breathe better while you sleep, is a breakthrough implantable option for people who can’t use or don’t get good results from a CPAP.  

Inspire is the only FDA-approved treatment for obstructed sleep apnea that treats the root cause with just the click of a button. Your doctor will insert a small device in your body with just a few small incisions. They can do that during an outpatient basis, so you don’t need a hospital stay. Then, the Inspire upper airway stimulation device keeps your airway open using a gentle pulse. There’s no noisy equipment or uncomfortable mask to deal with.

Upper airway stimulation diagram

The Inspire device monitors each breath you take while you sleep. Based on your unique breathing patterns, the device delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the movement of your tongue and other key airway muscles. Stimulating these muscles keeps your airway open – so you can sleep peacefully.

Inspire is controlled by a small handheld remote control. The remote allows you to turn the device on before bed and off when you wake up. It also lets you increase or decrease stimulation strength and pause during the night if needed. You’ll have full control.

Is Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy Right for Me?

You might be a candidate if you:

  • Have moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
  • Are unable to use or get consistent benefit from CPAP.
  • Are not significantly overweight.
  • Are over the age of 22.

How do I get started?

Getting started is simple. Just call one of the following providers to schedule an evaluation:

ChristianaCare Oral & Facial Surgery Center
Dr. Daniel J. Meara
Dr. Etern S. Park

ENT & Allergy of Delaware
Dr. Kieran M. Connolly
Dr. Jagdeep S. Hundal
Dr. Lauren G. Bogdan

Surgical evaluation

Your process begins with an evaluation by a specially trained physician. Your physician determines if you are a candidate for the surgery and if this treatment would be a suitable CPAP alternative for you.


The upper airway stimulation therapy system is typically implanted during an outpatient procedure under general anesthetic. The system is placed under the skin of the neck and chest through three small incisions. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks that you should be aware of. You should discuss the specifics of the procedure with your doctor.

Once all pre-operative requirements have been met, you will be scheduled for a surgical clearance appointment with your surgeon and obtain approval from your insurance. Your surgery will be scheduled at ChristianaCare’s Wilmington Hospital.


Follow-up appointments will be an essential part of your post-surgical care. After the procedure, patients wait for 30 days to heal. Then they return to their physician, who activates the device. Once activated, patients can use a hand-held remote control to turn the device on before they go to sleep each night. They can also pause and turn it off in the morning. The battery pack is designed to last 7 to 10 years, much like a pacemaker.

Why Choose ChristianaCare?

We provide expert care in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with the upper airway stimulation therapy. Our board-certified surgeons have the experience and skill to complete your procedure and get you back to your day-to-day activities in no time. We partner with you – before, during and after surgery – on your journey back to restful sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You should feel a mild sensation from the stimulation. Typically, patients feel a tingling sensation or mild contraction in their tongue muscles. The stimulation should not be painful or uncomfortable and the level is adjustable. Your doctor will make adjustments as needed.

Having a pacemaker or other implantable device does not disqualify you from becoming a candidate for upper airway stimulation therapy. Your doctor will evaluate your sleep apnea history and overall health, including heart health, before deciding if this therapy is right for you.

Data from clinical trial showed that 85% of bed partners reported either no snoring or soft snoring by their partners.

Recovery time after surgery will vary from patient to patient, most patients experience minimal pain and swelling at the small incision sites for a few days after the implant. Although up to your physicians, most patients are able to go home the same day of your procedure.

Within a few days following the procedure, you should be able to return to normal non-strenuous activities. You should avoid strenuous activities for about two weeks or as directed by your doctor. A week after surgery, your doctor will examine you to make sure you are healing properly. Most patients have a full recovery within a couple of weeks.

Additional questions? Please call one of our providers using their contact information above.

Additional questions? Please call one of our providers using their contact information above.

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