The Chicago Tribune recently profiled an intriguing alternative to the CPAP machine: an upper airway stimulated device, which is implanted in the chest. 

Dr. Jonathan Pomerantz, an ear, nose and throat specialist, implanted the first Inspire Medical Systems Inc. stimulation device in Illinois at NorthShore University HealthSystem just over a year ago and considers it a “breakthrough” for sleep apnea patients for whom other treatments have failed. He likes that there are documented results from the clinical trial, published in 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We don’t want to tell a patient just that we think it’s a good idea, but that we have data indicating there’s a good percent chance” of improvement, Pomerantz said.

His first patient for the device, Bart van Alphen, 39, who does sleep research on fruit flies at the Allada Lab at Northwestern University, had for decades stopped breathing as frequently as every other minute at night, Pomerantz said. After the device was implanted, his sleep apnea score went to zero.

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