HOUSTON (Jan 22, 2020) - Dr. Andrew Huang, Otolaryngologist – Head and Neck Surgeon at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, is the first trained ear, nose and throat physician in the Texas Medical Center to implant a novel device to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The device was implanted successfully at Baylor St. Luke’s Center for Sleep Medicine, the hospital’s accredited center for sleep services which is comprised of physicians from various specialties including pulmonary medicine, cardiology, and otolaryngology.
OSA is a sleep disorder that occurs when the muscles in the throat, such as the tongue, temporarily relax during sleep and block the flow of oxygen to the brain. Inspire, or Upper Airway Stimulation, is the first FDA-approved obstructive sleep apnea treatment that treats the root cause of sleep apnea by providing mild stimulation to open the airway while patients are asleep. It has been shown to significantly improve OSA and is a particularly viable treatment option for patients who don’t tolerate CPAP therapy, an interventional treatment that requires patients to wear a mask and hose during sleep.
“In some cases, they can’t get comfortable with the mask on their face, they move a lot when they sleep, or in the case of older patients, they may have to get up and use the restroom twice a night,” said Huang, who also is an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine. “In those patients, Inspire is a great option because it has shown very good and durable results in relieving obstruction while sleeping.”
Inspire is a small device that’s implanted in the body with three small incisions in a same-day outpatient procedure. Once implanted and fine-tuned to meet the needs of each patient, Inspire delivers mild stimulation to open the airway during sleep, allowing oxygen to flow naturally. The system works with a patient’s natural breathing process and can be easily turned on and off using a handheld remote.
“The system is synched with your muscles of breathing so that when you breathe in, it activates the muscles of your upper airway without you consciously having to do it, pushing the obstruction out of the way so your breathing is open,” Huang said.
OSA affects 22 million people in the United States, and if left untreated, it can cause chronic fatigue from poor sleep quality, which leads to decreased functionality, diminished quality of life, and poor productivity at work. Long term, OSA leads to increased risks of stroke, heart attacks, and associated damage from those conditions caused by too much strain placed on their cardio pulmonary system, Huang said.
Huang was the first surgeon in the Texas Medical Center to successfully implant the device, but the technology was introduced to patients in Greater Houston by Dr. Fidaa Shaib, medical director for Baylor St. Luke’s Center of Sleep Medicine, not long after the device was approved by the FDA in 2014.
“There haven’t been any providers in our region that can administer this, follow it, and do it at a high level, so we’re proud to offer that to the Houston population,” said Huang. “It has been an unmet need for our sleep apnea patients in Houston as it is an extraordinary tool that has been shown to not only cure the problem, but cure it long term.”
Baylor St. Luke’s Center of Sleep Medicine offers patients in the Greater Houston area an easy and convenient option in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. It is staffed by physician specialists in pulmonary medicine, cardiology, neurology, psychology, and otolaryngology (ears, nose, and throat). Sleep Medicine specialists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbances and disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnia, and sleep wake schedule disorders. Pulmonary Critical Care Sleep Medicine specialists and registered technical staff are dedicated to treating conditions linked to sleep disorders, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression and anxiety disorders. For more information, visit chistlukeshealth.org/sleep.
About Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is an 881-bed quaternary care academic medical center that is a joint venture between Baylor College of Medicine and St. Luke’s Health. Located in the Texas Medical Center, the hospital is the home of the Texas Heart® Institute, a cardiovascular research and education institution founded in 1962 by Denton A. Cooley, MD. The hospital was the first facility in Texas and the Southwest designated a Magnet® hospital for Nursing Excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, receiving the award five consecutive times. Baylor St. Luke’s also has three community emergency centers offering adult and pediatric care for the Greater Houston area.
About the CHI Texas Division
The CHI Texas Division, a member of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), is comprised of three markets―in Houston, St. Luke’s Health (St. Luke’s) is home to eight hospitals, eight emergency centers, Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Radiation & CyberKnife Center, and numerous Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group locations throughout Greater Houston; St. Luke’s Health Memorial (three hospitals and a long-term acute care facility in East Texas); and St. Joseph Health (five hospitals and several St. Joseph Medical Group locations across Brazos Valley). In addition, St. Luke’s flagship hospital, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center, is a joint venture with Baylor College of Medicine. Together, St. Luke’s and Baylor College of Medicine are transforming healthcare delivery with a mission to usher in a new era of healthcare to create healthier communities. For more information, visit CHITX.org.