Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by collapse of the velopharynx and/or oropharynx during sleep when drive to the upper airway is reduced. Here, we explore an indirect approach for activation of upper airway muscles which might affect airway dynamics- unilateral electrical stimulation of the afferent fibers of the sciatic nerve- in an anesthetized rabbit model. A nerve cuff electrode was placed around the sciatic and hypoglossal nerves to deliver stimulus while air flow, air pressure, and alae nasi electromyogram (EMG) were monitored both prior to and after sciatic transection. Sciatic nerve stimulation increased respiratory effort, rate, and alae nasi EMG, which persisted for seconds after stimulation; however, upper airway resistance was unchanged. Hypoglossal stimulation reduced resistance without altering drive. While sciatic nerve stimulation is not ideal for treating obstructive sleep apnea, it remains a target for altering respiratory drive.
Journal of Applied Physiology – The American Physiological Society
Published: Mar 13, 2018
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