Home Lifestyle FirstHealth completes 100th Inspire sleep therapy procedure

FirstHealth completes 100th Inspire sleep therapy procedure

Pictured, from left: Dr. Matthew Grafenberg; Dr. Justin Miller; and Dr. Waldemar Riefkohl

PINEHURST — FirstHealth ENT, Head & Neck, in partnership with Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, recently completed its 100th Inspire procedure, a surgery for individuals with sleep apnea.

Inspire is an FDA-approved breakthrough treatment for obstructive sleep apnea treatment option for people who cannot use continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

OSA affects 22 million Americans. When left untreated, it doesn’t just affect one person, but also those around them. OSA can cause vehicle and workplace accidents, worsening mood and memory, stroke, heart attack and other complications.

CPAP is the main treatment for OSA, but a large percentage of people don’t see benefit from, or are unable to tolerate, CPAP. Studies show about 50 percent of patients given a CPAP machine do not use it.

Pinehurst Surgical Clinic ENT, Head & Neck physicians Matthew Grafenberg, M.D., Justin Miller, M.D., and Waldemar Riefkohl, M.D, under contract with FirstHealth, started offering Inspire therapy in 2020 and have recently completed the 100th Inspire procedure.

Inspire works by implanting a neuro-stimulating device under the skin of the neck and chest during an outpatient surgery. Mild stimulation opens the airway during sleep, allowing oxygen to flow naturally. The patient uses a small handheld remote to turn Inspire on before bed and off when they wake up. Dr. Grafenberg said Inspire is a much-needed alternative to a CPAP machine.


“We’re excited to be able to offer this procedure to patients who may not tolerate CPAP, since no treatment option is one size fits all,” he said. “In the three years we’ve performed this surgery, we have seen great outcomes and have been able to provide patients with long-term relief from obstructive sleep apnea.”

Inspire therapy has shown a 79 percent reduction in sleep apnea events, and an overall patient satisfaction rate of 91 percent. The Inspire device is controlled by the patient with a small Inspire Sleep Remote. This allows individuals to increase or decrease therapy settings as needed, and to easily turn Inspire on before bed and turn off the device in the morning.

“Inspire is a great option when CPAP is not successful, or tolerated by the patient,” Dr. Riefkohl said. “Treatment by oral appliance or surgical correction of a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils or redundant soft plate can also improve sleep apnea. We work with each patient to choose the treatment option that is right for them.”

The Inspire system is implanted during a short, outpatient procedure. Most patients return home the same day and take over-the-counter pain medications to manage pain as needed.

“The Inspire procedure has been a great addition to the tools we have to treat sleep apnea,” Dr. Miller said. “It has been wonderful to have an option that consistently provides excellent results to those patients that cannot tolerate a CPAP machine. It is a milestone to achieve our 100th implant. We want to thank everyone who helped us start our implant program four years ago, including our patients.”

FirstHealth ENT, Head & Neck has locations in Sanford, Raeford, Rockingham and Troy. FirstHealth ENT surgeons are uniquely skilled and trained in a broad spectrum of treatments and surgical procedures for the care of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck. To learn more, please visit www.inspiresleep.com or firsthealth.org/ent.

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