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Smart polymer implants as an emerging technology for treating airway collapse in obstructive sleep apnea: a pilot (proof of concept) study

The implantable magnetic polymer produced endoscopically apparent airway movement when stimulated by an external magnetic force. However, the force required to produce these movements was large and may be technically complex in human OSA applications.

Magnetic manipulation of the middle constrictor muscles revealed a previously unidentified pattern of anterolateral airway movement. Stimulation of the pharyngeal plexus branches caused tonic contraction of the lateral pharyngeal wall and an apparent static rigidity of the lateral airway walls, preventing collapse.

The constrictor muscles are conventionally understood to contract and produce propulsion of food boluses during swallowing. The mechanism of this is not completely understood, although a previous study in cats has demonstrated an increase in

velopharyngeal and oropharyngeal cross-sectional area in the lateral direction with glossopharyngeal nerve stimulation.

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