Five Questions With: Dr. John Tarro

DR. ZACHARY Quay-de-la Vallee, left; Dr. C. Ian Newbury, center; and Dr. John Tarro are physicians at Rhode Island Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians Inc. in Providence and are trained to perform the Inspire procedure for patients who cannot use CPAP therapy to treat their sleep apnea. / COURTESY CHARTERCARE HEALTH PARTNERS

Dr. John Tarro is an otolaryngologist at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and is associated with Rhode Island Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians Inc., or RI ENT. A graduate of Yale University and Tulane University School of Medicine, he recently performed a breakthrough obstructive sleep apnea treatment procedure – called Inspire – for individuals who cannot use continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy. Fatima Hospital is one of the first hospitals in Rhode Island, and the only one in the Providence metropolitan area, to offer this treatment.

PBN: What is obstructive sleep apnea and how does it affect people?

TARRO: Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. It causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. This type of apnea occurs when your tongue and soft palate relax and block your airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. Consequences of untreated OSA include fatigue, diminished productivity, snoring, accident risk – community safety, and heart and brain health impacts.


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PBN: How common is this sleep disorder? Do you know how many people in Rhode Island suffer from it?

TARRO: Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. Over 20 million Americans have moderate to severe OSA. It is estimated that more than 61,000 Rhode Islanders may be affected by moderate to severe OSA.

PBN: How does Inspire therapy differ from other sleep apnea treatments?

TARRO: Inspire is for patients that cannot tolerate CPAP. It works inside the body with a patient’s natural breathing process to treat sleep apnea. Mild stimulation opens the airway during sleep, allowing oxygen to flow naturally. The patient uses a small handheld remote to turn Inspire on before bed and off when they wake up.

PBN: What are some of the advantages of using this treatment?

TARRO: We see many patients who have stopped using or are unable to tolerate CPAP. Inspire represents a significant advancement in treating sleep apnea. It is clinically proven to reduce sleep apnea events, has a high level of patient satisfaction and a high therapy adherence. We are excited to offer this promising therapy to sleep apnea patients who struggle with CPAP.

PBN: Do physicians require specific training or qualifications to perform the procedure?

TARRO: The physician team is clinically trained and supported by the Inspire team. This includes didactic learning, cadaver training and clinical support.

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at 

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