What Is Inspire For Sleep Apnea?

Last updated: January 28th, 2024

If you’re one of the countless individuals around the world grappling with obstructive sleep apnea, you’re likely familiar with the standard treatment method of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). But what if there was a revolutionary alternative that could offer you a good night’s sleep without the hassle of masks or hoses? Enter the world of Inspire therapy—a game-changing approach to treating sleep apnea.

So, what is Inspire for sleep apnea? It’s a cutting-edge treatment option that can significantly improve your quality of sleep and overall health.

Key Takeaways

  • Inspire therapy is an alternative to CPAP for sleep apnea, involving a surgically implanted device that stimulates airway muscles and is controlled by a handheld remote, significantly reducing sleep apnea events and snoring.

  • Eligibility for Inspire treatment requires meeting specific criteria, mainly targeting patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who struggle with CPAP therapy due to factors like discomfort or claustrophobia.

  • While insurance often covers the expenses for Inspire therapy, with costs ranging between $30,000 and $40,000, there are financing options available, and patients typically experience improved sleep quality and satisfaction with the treatment.

Unveiling Inspire: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating Sleep Apnea

Illustration of obstructive sleep apnea treatment

Ditching the conventional CPAP machines, the Inspire sleep apnea treatment is a breath of fresh air. This innovative therapy utilizes upper airway stimulation through a surgically implanted device to stimulate airway muscles, offering an effective alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. But how does it function? The Inspire device works by providing mild stimulation to prevent the tongue from blocking the airway during sleep, facilitating uninterrupted breathing all night.

The Inspire device is managed using a small handheld remote, allowing users to activate the device at bedtime and turn it off when they wake up. The best part? Users of the Inspire device have reported substantial improvements in their condition. On average, sleep apnea events decreased by an impressive 79%, with significant reductions in snoring and daytime sleepiness.

The Mechanism Behind Inspire Therapy

At the heart of the Inspire sleep apnea device are three main components:

  1. The generator that produces electrical impulses

  2. The lead that transmits these impulses to stimulate the hypoglossal nerve

  3. A respiratory-sensing lead that tracks breathing patterns

This combination of components allows the Inspire device to monitor breathing patterns and deliver electrical pulses to the tongue, ensuring the airway remains open during sleep.

To give patients full control over the device, Inspire is coupled with a handheld remote control. This user-friendly tool allows patients to activate the stimulation before sleep and deactivate it upon waking. Consulting with a doctor trained in Inspire therapy is also crucial for accurate guidance and management.

Comparing Inspire to Traditional CPAP

The decision between Inspire and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) should be based on a careful evaluation of their respective advantages and disadvantages. While CPAP utilizes pressurized air to maintain open airways, Inspire therapy uses nerve stimulation to target throat muscles and achieve a similar outcome.

The ace up Inspire’s sleeve, however, is its adherence rates. Patients tend to stick with Inspire therapy due to its non-invasive nature which eliminates the need for wearing masks or managing hoses. This means enhanced comfort and convenience compared to CPAP therapy, leading to better adherence rates.

Eligibility Criteria for Inspire Treatment

Photo of a patient eligible for Inspire treatment

Inspire treatment isn’t suited for everyone. It’s specifically tailored for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who find CPAP therapy intolerable and fit within certain Body Mass Index (BMI) parameters. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight, and for eligibility for Inspire therapy, the specific BMI range is up to 40.

Various factors can contribute to a patient’s inability to tolerate CPAP therapy. These may include side effects like:

  • dermatitis

  • rhinitis

  • epistaxis

  • nasal discomfort

  • congestion

  • mask leak

  • aerophagia

  • barotrauma

Some patients may also develop claustrophobia with the mask, leading them to seek alternative treatments like Inspire therapy.

The Inspire Implant Procedure Explained

Illustration of the Inspire implant procedure

The Inspire implant procedure is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery conducted by qualified medical professionals. The procedure involves steps such as dividing the skin and platysma, creating a small inferior subplatysma flap, and identifying and retracting the digastric tendon and submandibular gland.

Typically, the procedure lasts for 2 to 3 hours. It may involve deep sedation or recovery from anesthesia, with stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve being employed during the procedure.

Living with the Inspire Device

Photo of a patient using the Inspire remote

Living with the Inspire device is simple and convenient. The device is managed daily using a small handheld remote, which is used to activate the device at bedtime and deactivate it upon waking. The implanted components of the device are covered by a three-year manufacturer’s warranty, while the remote is covered by a one-year warranty.

While individuals who have undergone Inspire therapy may qualify for an MRI, a consultation with an inspire trained doctor, who is also an inspire therapy trained doctor, is necessary. In some cases, alternative imaging modalities may be advised based on the specific circumstances.

Maintenance and Follow-Up Care

Maintenance of the Inspire device includes regular doctor visits and battery replacement. When the battery level is low, the remote will display indicators prompting you to schedule an appointment with your physician for a replacement. The replacement of the battery in an Inspire device is conducted through a straightforward outpatient procedure, usually required after approximately 11 years of usage.

Regular doctor visits also consist of:

  • Follow-up appointments to assess the efficacy of the therapy

  • The initial visit typically takes place approximately 30 days after the procedure

  • Periodic evaluations once or twice a year

Compatibility with Other Medical Systems

When it comes to compatibility with other medical systems, Inspire therapy ticks most of the boxes. Patients with an Inspire implant can safely undergo MRI procedures as the system is fully compatible with:

  • Full-body MRI

  • Scans of the head

  • Scans of the neck

  • Scans of the extremities

Even for individuals with cardiac pacemakers or defibrillators, Inspire therapy can often be safely implemented, typically on the right side of the chest and neck, signifying a degree of compatibility between these systems. However, it’s important to note that the Inspire device may be susceptible to electromagnetic interference from certain devices and is not recommended for patients with specific anatomical characteristics that could obstruct upper airway functions.

Risks and Considerations of Inspire Therapy

As with any treatment, Inspire therapy carries potential risks and side effects. These may include:

  • Infection

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Temporary tongue weakness

It’s worth mentioning that these side effects are generally minor and usually diminish over time.

Patients may also experience tongue abrasion, mouth dryness, and discomfort from the nerve stimulator when utilizing Inspire therapy. To help manage any discomfort or side effects, healthcare professionals can modify the settings of the device, ensuring a more comfortable experience for patients.

Cost and Insurance Coverage for Inspire Therapy

Illustration of cost and insurance coverage for Inspire therapy

As for the cost of Inspire therapy, prices typically fall between $30,000 and $40,000. The good news is that the majority of major U.S. insurance providers, including Medicare, offer coverage for the treatment. Furthermore, coverage can also be obtained through certain Veterans Affairs and military hospitals.

Medicare enrollees may expect to pay around $1,400, while those with supplemental insurance plans could have even lower out-of-pocket costs. However, the exact expenses depend on individual insurance plans.

Financing Options for Inspire Therapy

For individuals without insurance coverage for Inspire therapy, or those needing to cover some or all of the cost themselves, various payment options are available to make it more affordable. Healthcare providers or financial services associated with the treatment centers can provide information on financing options, which may include monthly payment plans.

There are also organizations such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and the American Sleep Apnea Association that provide financial aid for patients requiring Inspire sleep apnea therapy. Plus, patients have the option to utilize both flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA) to offset the expenses related to Inspire Therapy.

Real Patient Experiences with Inspire Therapy

First-hand feedback from patients is the most reliable source to gauge the effectiveness of Inspire therapy. Feedback from actual patients has been overwhelmingly positive, with many reporting:

  • Improved sleep

  • Increased energy levels

  • Reduced snoring

  • Decreased daytime sleepiness

  • Improved quality of life

  • Increased satisfaction with the treatment

Patients have reported experiencing enhancements in their sleep quality after undergoing Inspire therapy, with some expressing a return to their normal state and experiencing clinically significant impacts on sleep quality. In terms of daytime alertness, Inspire therapy has shown significant improvement.

Not to mention, there’s been a notable reduction in snoring, with 90% of bed partners reporting minimal or no snoring.

Comparing Sleep Quality: Inspire vs. CPAP

A key question that arises is the comparison between Inspire therapy and CPAP in terms of sleep quality improvement? Research indicates that Inspire therapy delivers comparable enhancements in sleep quality for individuals with sleep apnea when compared to conventional CPAP therapy.

In terms of adherence rates, Inspire therapy typically ranges from 39% to 60%, while CPAP therapy has adherence rates between 29% and 83%. Inspire therapy is designed to tackle common reasons for non-adherence to CPAP, such as discomfort and claustrophobia, which may lead to improved adherence rates.

The Future of Sleep Apnea Treatment: Inspire's Role

Moving forward, Inspire therapy is poised to become a cornerstone in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Recent advancements in Inspire therapy have enhanced its effectiveness and user convenience, eliminating the requirement for external machines or masks.

Current research findings indicate favorable long-term effects of Inspire therapy, with the following surgical success rates at different follow-up periods:

  • 72.4% at 12 months

  • 75% at 24 months

  • 75% at 36 months

  • 75% at 48 months

  • 75% at 60 months

With the utilization of Inspire therapy in treating sleep apnea expected to experience substantial growth, the future certainly looks bright for this revolutionary treatment.


In conclusion, Inspire therapy represents a significant breakthrough in the treatment of sleep apnea. With its unique mechanism of action, it offers a promising alternative to traditional CPAP therapy, particularly for patients who find CPAP therapy challenging to tolerate.

From improved sleep quality to reduced snoring and increased daytime alertness, Inspire therapy has shown remarkable results. Coupled with its compatibility with other medical systems and availability of financing options, Inspire therapy is set to transform the lives of sleep apnea patients worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the negatives of inspire for sleep apnea?

The negatives of the Inspire sleep apnea device may include discomfort, unpleasant side effects like dry mouth and tongue discomfort, and the potential surgical risks. It's important to consider these factors before choosing this treatment option.

How much does inspire sleep apnea implant cost?

The Inspire sleep apnea implant costs around $30,000–$40,000, but actual surgical costs may vary among doctors and insurance coverage should be considered.

Where is the inspire device implanted?

The inspire device is implanted along the right side of the neck and chest wall during a two- or three-hour long procedure under general anesthesia. After four weeks, the device gets turned on and off using a small remote control for nighttime use.

Is inspire better than a CPAP machine?

According to a study, 94% of patients feel that Inspire is better than a CPAP machine and would recommend it.

What are the eligibility criteria for Inspire treatment?

If you have moderate to severe sleep apnea and cannot tolerate CPAP therapy, you may be eligible for the Inspire treatment, provided you meet specific Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria. This treatment is designed for those who struggle with traditional CPAP therapy and meet specific BMI requirements.


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