Surgically implanted, magnetically activated device to treat sleep apnea.

The Problem

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by repeated disruptions to breathing during sleep. Men, the elderly and the obese are at elevated risk for OSA. The apnea market is both large and highly underserved. In the US alone, 20 million people (about 1 in 15) suffer from apnea. The first-line treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is efficacious at preventing airway closure but has poor compliance in many patients, thus limiting its effectiveness.

The Solution

The Magnap team has prototyped a minimally-invasive surgical device to prevent airway collapse during sleep. The technology offers to replace the uncomfortable, noisy masks and pumps of CPAP with a small, surgically implanted device. The device is activated only at night and therefore does not have an effect on speaking, swallowing or breathing. It can be implanted on an outpatient basis in a short surgery. The solution is user-activated, titratable and reversible. Proof-of-concept cadaver studies have been performed with very encouraging results.

Magnap builds on other Magents-In- Me concepts.

Over the last 9 years, we have explored the use of magnetic force to correct a variety of problems and deformities. We began with the Magnetic Mini‐Mover Procedure (“3MP”) to correct pectus excavatum deformity in children. In the course of developing and testing the Magnetic Mini‐Mover Procedure, we realized that the same strategy could be applied to the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

The concept is simple: In the same way that the magnetic attraction between an implanted and external magnet gradually corrects pectus excavatum deformity, an encased rare earth magnet anchored to the hyoid bone and coupled with a second magnet housed in an external orthotic device could be used to advance and stabilize the hyoid bone during sleep.

With this approach, the patient is unaffected while awake during the day (as the external magnet and orthotic device are not in use), and the implanted device is concealed within the soft tissues of the neck because of its relatively small size.

At night, the patient applies the external orthotic device containing the second magnet, which is held in place over the neck by magnetic attraction to the internal magnet. The external component of the device is straightforward to use, comfortable, and fitted to the patient. In addition, the external device is equipped with a pressure sensor and data logger that allow either continuous or intermittent monitoring of breathing patterns during sleep. Finally, the amount of force applied to the hyoid can be adjusted in a number of ways, including changes in the size of the external magnet and relative distance between the magnets.

Under Development

We are currently working towards a clinical trial for this device.


Hyoid bone advancement for improving airway patency: cadaver study of a magnet-based system.
Rosenbluth KH, Kwiat DA, Harrison MR, Kezirian EJ.
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;146(3):491-6. doi: 10.1177/0194599811429522. Epub 2011 Nov 22.