Trident Health System
January 13, 2022

North Charleston, SC  – The next time you lay on your back move your tongue to the back of your mouth and try to breathe.  It’s not easy.   Don’t be surprised if you gag or gasp for breath.  Imagine this happening more than 30 times every hour while you sleep - every night for years.  For patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) this is a common occurrence.

 Dr. Eric Lentsch specializes in head and neck surgery.  He’s a member of Head and Neck Specialists – Charleston and on the medical staff at Trident Medical Center. He says OSA creates a high risk for life-threatening and life-altering conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and memory loss and shouldn’t ignored.  “One of the misconceptions about OSA is that there isn’t an effective surgical treatment.  That’s not correct.  The newest option, which involves an outpatient procedure to implant a device called a hypoglossal nerve stimulator, has an approximately 90% success rate.  Based on the comments I’ve heard from the more than 200 patients I’ve treated with the device it changes their life.”

 The implanted device, which is FDA-approved, is about the size of a pacemaker.  It continuously monitors breathing patterns during sleep.  Based on the patient’s unique breathing patterns the system delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve in the tongue and key airway muscles, which keeps the airway open at both the soft palate and tongue base.  With an open airway fresh air can flow more freely to the lungs and a normal sleep pattern can resume.

 Kiely St Germain is a nurse practitioner with Head and Neck Specialists – Charleston and works closely with Dr. Lentsch and the patients who are candidates for the implanted hypoglossal nerve stimulator.  She says, “I love seeing patients at their follow up appointment.  They talk about how happy they are and how much energy they have.”

 Dr. Lentsch added, “One of the common phrases I hear from patients after the device has been implanted is, ‘You saved my life.’"

Obstructive Sleep Apnea symptoms include:

  • Waking up suddenly and feeling like you’re gasping or choking
  • Regular fatigue or sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

If you have symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea talk with your primary care physician.  A sleep study may be ordered.  If Obstructive Sleep Apnea is diagnosed ask your physician about treatment options, including  the implanted hypoglossal nerve stimulator.

For more information go to:

Head and Neck Specialists – Charleston

9228 Medical Plaza Drive

Charleston, SC 29406

(843) 574-5693

About Trident Health

For 47 years Trident Health has provided acute care services to families in South Carolina’s Lowcountry including Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties.  Trident Health includes two acute care hospitals – 321-bed Trident Medical Center and 124-bed Summerville Medical Center; three freestanding ERs – Brighton Park Emergency, Centre Pointe Emergency and Moncks Corner Medical Center – and two urgent care centers – CareNow Urgent Care Goose Creek and CareNow Urgent Care North Charleston.

Trident Health is one of the region’s largest employers with more than 2,500 staff and a medical staff of more than 600 physicians.  In 2020 Trident Medical Center was recognized by Healthgrades as among American’s 50 Best Hospitals for Vascular Surgery.  Additionally, The Joint Commission has recognized Trident Medical Center as a national Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center and Summerville Medical Center as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.  Trident Medical Center is also a Trauma Center.  In 2020, Trident Health provided $45.6 million in charity care and paid more than $35.4 million in local, state and federal taxes.

To learn more about how Trident Health is expanding services to meet the growing healthcare needs of South Carolina Lowcountry families go to