Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an effective but cumbersome treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Noncompliant patients need alternative therapies. We studied a tongue neurostimulation approach: targeted hypoglossal neurostimulation (THN) therapy with the aura6000™ System. A multi-contact electrode positioned around the main trunk of the twelfth nerve connected to an implanted pulse generator stimulates segments of the nerve, activating dilator muscles. The primary objective was to improve the polysomnographically determined apnoea/hypopnoea index (AHI) at 3 months, and maintain the improvement after 12 months of treatment. 13 out of 14 operated patients were successfully implanted. At 12 months, the AHI decreased from 45±18 to 21±17, a 53% reduction (p<0.001). The 4% oxygen desaturation index fell from 29±20 to 15±16 and the arousal index from 37±13 to 25±14, both p<0.001. The Epworth sleepiness scale decreased from 11±7 to 8±4 (p=0.09). THN was neither painful nor awakened patients, who all complied with therapy. There were two transient tongue paresis. The present study represents the longest study of any hypoglossal neurostimulation reported to date. We conclude that THN is safe and effective to treat OSA in patients not compliant with CPAP.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01532180.