In 2005, Michael began to exhibit difficulty breathing. After an extensive workup and an unsuccessful trial with C-Pap, he was provided with a chest cuirass. About one week later, he suffered a stroke to the brain stem which paralyzed his diaphragms. Mike was left no other option than a tracheotomy and a mechanical ventilator.
Michael was evaluated for a breathing pacemaker at the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. After some preoperative testing to ensure his phrenic nerves were intact, he was implanted and began pacing in January 2006.
He has undergone extensive physical therapy, and “can now walk, talk, eat, and drink all on my own with very little help.” He still uses his ventilator at night and occasionally when under the weather, “but it sure beats being hooked to that thing 24/7.”
He states “Thanks to the breathing pacemaker system, I have been given an extension on my life. I am embracing that extension with happiness and joy and a lot of love! I am looking forward to celebrating my 10th year on the phrenic pacers and look forward to a trip to New York to visit you all and thank you personally for giving me the gift of life you have. You do not know how much I so much appreciate Avery Biomedical and look forward to meeting you and letting you see how well I do since you gave me the extension of my life in January 2006.”
The Avery Breathing Pacemaker is an implanted phrenic nerve or diaphragm stimulator. It consists of surgically implanted electrodes and receivers with an external transmitter and antennas.
It can be implanted either cervically or thoracically using minimally-invasive techniques such as video-assisted (VATS) or thorascopic approaches.
The Avery Breathing Pacemaker is the only diaphragm pacing system to have full premarket approval (PMA) from the US FDA and CE Marking privileges under the European Active Implantable Medical Device Directive for adult and pediatric use.
In addition, using small implanted radiofrequency receivers rather than electrode wires that pass directly through the skin may decrease a patient’s risk of infection and ongoing wound care management issues.
Avery has been commercially distributing breathing pacemakers since the early 1970’s. Since then, more than 2,000 patients have been implanted in over 40 countries establishing an unsurpassed record of safety and reliability. Due to their high reliability and cost effectiveness, the Avery pacers are reimbursed by Medicare and most private and government insurance around the world.
Central Sleep Apnea
The phrenic nerves originate at C3 through C5 and are the neurological pathways between the brain and each hemidiaphragm. Unlike a spinal cord injury which can damage these pathways, central sleep apnea is a condition in which the brain does not utilize these pathways consistently, if at all. Once a sleep study confirms that the patient's apneic events are of central origin, a diaphragm pacing system should be considered.