Lurie Children’s Offers New Treatment Option for Sleep Apnea Patients with Down Syndrome

March 22, 2024

Adolescents with Down syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea may have a new option for treatment at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The hospital’s premier Division of Otorhinolaryngology (Head & Neck Surgery), or ENT, now offers an innovative procedure using a recently approved FDA device that can eliminate the need for some patients to use a CPAP machine to manage sleep apnea.

A device known as the Inspire hypoglossal nerve stimulator can be implanted in the patient’s upper chest. It delivers gentle pulses to the tongue to help keep the airway open while the patient sleeps. The device is powered on and controlled by a handheld remote. It has been used in adult patients for years, and in 2023 became approved of patients aged 13-18 with Down syndrome and apnea hypopnea index between 10 and 50.

At Lurie Children’s, Dr. Saied Ghadersohi, Director of the Complex Sleep Program and an expert treating pediatric sleep apnea, is among the few in the region trained to surgically implant this device. The procedure is minimally invasive, and patients generally will not need to spend more than one night in the hospital.

After implantation, the patient and family will work with providers to learn to effectively use the device and controller with the goal of no longer needing to use a CPAP machine, which can be difficult for young patients with Down syndrome.

“This device can be a game-changer for this population of patients,” Dr. Ghadersohi said. “I look forward to working with more young people and their families to make this treatment an option for them and help them breathe more easily.”

For more information about this procedure, contact pediatric registered nurse in Otolargyngology Emily White at 312-227-7830.