Perioperative and Perianesthesia Considerations for Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator Implantation in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients


      Hypoglossal nerve stimulation (Inspire Medical Systems, Maple Grove, Minnesota) is an innovative treatment option for eligible patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Since U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2014, over 18,000 patients have been implanted. The device includes an implanted pacemaker-sized pulse generator, one sensing lead, and one stimulation lead. During sleep, inspirations and expirations are detected by the sensing lead. At end expiration, the stimulation lead triggers the hypoglossal nerve to contract and stiffen the tongue thus preventing airway obstruction and improving OSA. Perioperative and perianesthesia nurses have an important role in caring for these patients during all aspects of the surgical insertion process: evaluation for eligibility, device implantation, and future visits to the perioperative area for related and unrelated procedures. This article reviews anatomic and physiologic factors contributing to airway collapse in OSA, function of the hypoglossal nerve stimulation device, the evaluation, implantation, and activation process, and considerations for patient care in the perioperative and perianesthesia periods. Precautions needed for other therapies, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging, diathermy, and radiation are also discussed.


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