April 25, 2007, ST. LOUIS – Doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine have a new, minimally invasive surgical option for treating chronic sinus inflammation.
The Balloon Sinuplasty system uses a small catheter and balloon to quickly open and expand blocked sinuses, with a goal of less pain and a quicker recovery for patients than the traditional surgical alternative.
"I have a cautious optimism about this technology," says John Seibert, MD, otolaryngologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. "Patients seem to be getting back on their feet a lot quicker."
Sinusitis is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, afflicting 37 million people annually who suffer from face pressure or pain, decreased sense of smell, drainage, headaches and teeth pain. Antibiotics and nasal steroids can help for some patients, but many need surgery.
In the standard endoscopic sinus surgery, forceps are used to remove tissue and bone from the sinuses. The procedure can be painful with a recovery lasting a couple of weeks.
With Balloon Sinuplasty, a balloon is placed under endoscopic guidance and a guidewire is placed under the sinus. "This opens up the normal ostea without destroying tissue of the sinus," says Dr. Seibert.
"So far I’ve been doing this since October of last year and the results have been very good," says Dr. Seibert. "Those patients have been very pleased. I had one patient have the surgery on Friday and go back to work on Monday."
A recent multi-center study on the procedure called CLEAR, reported 24-week results on 109 patients. The study found 98% of patients observed and open sinus rate, no one had an adverse
event, and there was a statistically significant patient symptomatic improvement.
Still, the procedure isn’t for every patient, and Dr. Seibert wants to see what long-term data on the procedure shows.
"There’s not one cure all for sinus surgery," he says. "It needs continued study and that’s why I’m excited to have it here at Washington University."