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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Feb;151(2 Pt 1):455-60.

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation affects the pressure-volume behavior of the upper airway.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.


To determine the effects of electrical hypoglossal nerve and submental stimulation on upper airway collapsibility, we examined the pressure-volume (P-V) relationships during bilateral supramaximal stimulation of the distal cut hypoglossal nerve ends over a range of frequencies from zero to 100 Hz in the sealed upper airway of 10 anesthetized supine dogs. Animals were artificially ventilated with 50% O2 and maintained under relative hyperoxia and hypocapnia during the study to eliminate the ventilatory drive output. Sealed upper airway pressures were obtained during random injections of different volumes of air from zero to 50 ml with and without hypoglossal nerve stimulation, and the upper airway P-V curves were obtained. The characteristics of the P-V curves were as follows: (1) the upper airway compliance defined as the slope of the regression of P-V curves fell from 4.07 +/- 0.33 ml/cm H2O without stimulation to 3.02 +/- 0.30 ml/cm H2O with stimulation at 50 Hz and plateaued at frequencies greater than 50 Hz, and (2) the volume at a given pressure during stimulation was larger than that without stimulation. The effects of submental stimulation on upper airway collapsibility were similar to those of hypoglossal nerve stimulation. These results suggest that the increase of upper airway muscle tone by hypoglossal nerve or submental stimulation stiffens the upper airway and that increases in muscle tone expand the upper airway.

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