New Device Eases Sleep Apnea

Aug 08, 2004 03:55 AM EDT

A new study reports use of a device that changes the position of the jaw reduces blockage of the upper airway in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

The Australian study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, hoped to develop an understanding of how oral appliances help treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Significant improvement seen

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney studied the use of the mandibular advancement splint (MAS) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The MAS is a device that is placed in the patient’s mouth and adjusted until the jaw is advanced to the maximum limit of comfort. Insertion of an oral appliance that advances the jaw can reduce upper airway collapsibility during sleep.

The study indicated that significant improvement, as indicated by an apnea index (25.0 versus 13.2, respectively), was observed with the MAS. Significant improvement in upper airway closing pressure and slow-wave sleep was also seen in patients treated with MAS compared with those in the untreated group.

70% showed some degree of response

In total, 50% of the patients had a complete response, 20% showed a partial response and the treatment failed in the remaining 30%. The results indicate that mandibular advancement 'stiffens' the airway, thereby reducing the chance of collapse.

The research also concluded that oral appliances have a higher acceptance among patients than continuous positive airway pressure, the current standard therapy.


1. Peter A Cistulli, Gotsopoulos, H., Ng, A. T., Qian, J., “Effect of Oral Appliance Therapy on Upper Airway Collapsibility in Obstructive Sleep Apnea,” American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, 168: 238-241.