A revolutionary new surgery aimed at changing and saving lives is being put to the test for the very first time in Nevada Friday afternoon. The surgery is for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea. It involves implanting a device, about the size of a silver dollar, into your upper chest.
"I'm excited," said patient Don Fox. "I'm ready to rock and roll and get this thing done."
Fox made the trip from Carson City to Las Vegas with hopes to cure his sleep apnea in a two hour procedure Friday afternoon.
"I literally stop breathing about 48 times per hour for anywhere from five to 12 seconds," he said.
Fox was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea more than a decade ago. Ever since then, he's tried everything. He attempted using a CPAP, but wasn't able to sleep with it. So, hes been on and off of oxygen for years. Plus, the sleep apnea caused him to grind his teeth, so he uses a mouth guard to help him get through the night.
"I think there's millions of people out there who have sleep apnea who have severe sleep apnea that aren't treated as well," said Dr. Frederick Goll III, an Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgeon at St. Rose.
Dr. Goll is going to perform Fox's procedure at the St. Rose Sienna campus in Henderson. It is the only site and the only doctor offering the life changing procedure in the entire state of Nevada.
"It's not for everybody," he said. "But it's somewhat revolutionary in its treatment."
Dr. Goll says it is similar to nerve simulating implants used to treat epilepsy. He says it is like a pacemaker for the tongue. It is called the Inspire implant device.
"As you breathe, it senses it, and stimulates the tongue muscles to protrude forward so the tongue doesn't collapse during sleep," said Dr. Goll.
Fox is excited to be the Nevada guinea pig for millions of others out there dealing with sleep apnea.
"I have people that have the same kind of problem as I have and they're literally waiting to see how this works out for me!"
The device has a remote control so you can turn it off during the day and turn it back on at night. The Inspire implant device is said to reduce sleep apnea in patients by 80%. If you are extremely overweight, you cannot have the procedure done.