Innovative Treatment Pioneered at UCSF Offers New Hope for People with Sleep Apnea
A novel device to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea was profiled in a recent story on ABC7/KGO News Bay Area. The technology was developed by Michael R. Harrison, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Surgery, Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Director Emeritus of the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center.
The surgery to implant the device was performed by Jolie Chang M.D., Assistant Professor in the divisions of General Otolaryngology, Salivary Gland Surgery and Sialendoscopy, Snoring and Sleep Apnea, and Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at UCSF.
For most of us, eight hours of sleep is rejuvenating. For others, it can be torture.
"I would wake up multiple times a night, throwing up. I hadn't been breathing for over a minute. And you wake up like that I don't even know how many times," remembers J.J. Standing.
Standing suffers from obstructive sleep apnea. It's a condition so severe, he says it left him like a walking zombie during the day. It's typically triggered when muscles that keep your air passages open at night over-relax and collapse.
"When he has that obstruction during sleep, the lungs and brain are not getting the oxygen they need, and it triggers him to wake up," explains Dr. Jolie Chang, a surgeon and assistant professor of Otolaryngology at UCSF.
Standing first tried a pressurized air mask, known as the CPAP, but like a significant number of patients, couldn't sleep with it on. Then, in a first-of-its-kind neck surgery at UCSF, Dr. Chang implanted him with an experimental device. It's designed to keep his airway open, not with tubes or sutures but with a magnet.
"A small incision is made and the magnet is placed under the skin and secured to the bone with a couple of stitches," says Chang.
Then at night, Standing puts on a collar, containing a second magnet. The attraction pulls the implanted magnet forward, pulling open his airway at the same time. The device, known as the Magnap, is the brain child of Dr. Mike Harrison.
Approximately 18-20 million adults in the United States, an estimated 1 in 15 people, have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated upper airway obstruction when the tongue muscle relaxes during sleep, resulting in possible significant adverse effects on health and daily function, including daytime sleepiness, decreased quality of life, motor vehicle accidents, and serious cardiovascular illness.
Current treatments include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a non-invasive therapy involving a small machine that supplies air pressure through a face mask. While effective, many patients cannot tolerate the therapy or report problems such as ill-fitting masks, dry nose and mouth, and claustrophobia.
Magnap Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Dr. Harrison’s team in the UCSF Pediatric Device Consortium, an FDA-funded “think-tank” for pediatric medical device development, has been developing an alternative treatment for OSA called Magnap (Magnetic Apnea Prevention).
“For the Magnap procedure, a dime-sized rare earth magnet with a ferromagnetic back-plate encased in titanium is implanted on the hyoid bone in the neck via a minimally invasive outpatient surgery. The patient is then fitted with a custom, removable external neck brace containing a second magnet that is worn during sleep. The brace’s magnet pulls the internal magnet on the hyoid bone forward with sufficient force to keep the airway open, thereby preventing airway collapse.
UCSF Clinical Trial
Magnap is currently being tested in a clinical trial at UCSF, Magnetic Apnea Prevention (MAGNAP) Device to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea: First-In-Human Study of Feasibility and Safety.