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The impact of daytime transoral neuromuscular stimulation on upper airway physiology – A mechanistic clinical investigation


There is a need for alternatives to positive airway pressure for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Improving upper airway dilator function might alleviate upper airway obstruction. We hypothesized that transoral neuromuscular stimulation would reduce upper airway collapse in concert with improvement in genioglossal muscle function. Subjects with simple snoring and mild OSA (AHI < 15/h on screening) underwent in-laboratory polysomnography with concurrent genioglossal electromyography (EMGgg) before and after 4-6 weeks of twice-daily transoral neuromuscular stimulation. Twenty patients completed the study: Sixteen males, mean ± SD age 40 ± 13 years, and BMI 26.3 ± 3.8 kg/m2 . Although there was no change in non-rapid eye movement EMGgg phasic (p = 0.66) or tonic activity (p = 0.83), and no decrease in snoring or flow limitation, treatment was associated with improvements in tongue endurance, sleep quality, and sleep efficiency. In this protocol, transoral neurostimulation did not result in changes in genioglossal activity or upper airway collapse, but other beneficial effects were noted suggesting a need for additional mechanistic investigation.

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