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Ear, Nose + Throat (ENT) - Head + Neck Surgery

Upper Airway Stimulation

You can rest assured 

At Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, we understand the value of sleep and the impact it can have on your health. That’s why the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Center and the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (ENT) have teamed up to offer a new implantable therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) called Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS). 

Approximately 18 million Americans – 1 out of every 15 adults – have OSA, which frequently occurs as a result of the tongue falling back in the throat during sleep, blocking the airway and preventing oxygen from going to the blood. When this occurs, for some, hundreds of times per night, the brain wakes up the body to take a breath. 

An alternative sleep therapy 

Upper Airway Stimulation is an FDA-approved, implantable, mask free treatment option for people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who are unable to use or get consistent benefit from CPAP, and for those who don’t have any other effective alternatives. 

The team assembled to provide your care is led by the Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Richard O. Wein, MD, FACS, and the Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine, Khalid Ismail, MD. The Otolaryngology service will implant the device and the Sleep Medicine team will activate the device, make adjustments, monitor and follow the patient from the point of implant. The Upper Airway Stimulation device is implanted during an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia, and patients go home the same day with no dietary restrictions. The UAS implant will be activated for daily use one month after surgery, and a routine sleep study is performed four to six weeks after activation to optimize your implant settings. 

What you can expect 

The device is controlled by a small handheld sleep remote, which allows you to turn it on before bed and off when you wake up, increase and decrease stimulation strength, and pause during the night if needed.

While you’re sleeping, UAS monitors every breath you take, and based on your unique breathing patterns, the system delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve which controls the movement of your tongue and other key airway muscles. By stimulating these muscles, the airway remains open during sleep.

Khalid H. Ismail, MD

Khalid H. Ismail, MD

Title(s): Director, Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program; Co-Director, Mycobacterial Disease Clinic; Pulmonary Attending Physician; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
Appt. Phone: 617-636-6377
Fax #: 617-636-1649

Pediatric sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, parasomnias, narcolepsy, pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer, COPD, asthma, ILD, critical care medicine, tuberculosis

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Richard O. Wein, MD, FACS
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Richard O. Wein, MD, FACS

Title(s): Chief, Division of Head and Neck Surgery; Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Otolaryngology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8711
Fax #: 617-636-1479

Head and neck surgical oncology, head and neck reconstruction, management of salivary and thyroid disorders, management of radiation-related complications, maxillofacial trauma, maxillofacial trauma, sleep apnea and sleep endoscopy

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Richard O. Wein, MD, FACS is the chief of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA.

WCVB: New hope for those who suffer with sleep apnea

Tufts Medical Center now offers a new implantable therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea called Upper Airway Stimulation.

Learn more about this procedure