Balloon Sinus Dilation, image courtesy of Entellus Medical
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -
It's a monumental headache shared by more than 37 million Americans.
But now, there's new hope for many of those who suffer from chronic sinus infections, also known as sinusitis. It's something called "Balloon Sinus Dilation."
"So, two weeks ago we did his balloon," said Dr. William Parker, standing beside his patient James Cox inside an exam room. Parker is an ear, nose and throat specialist at the Highland Clinic in south Shreveport.
Cox recently underwent the procedure, in which a tiny balloon is laced inside the patient's narrowed sinus and inflated. It creates an opening for air flow and drainage.
"The first day, you're better," Cox said. "You breathe almost immediately better when he's doing the procedure. And the next day you can go back to work."
Until recently, costly and invasive surgery was often the best option for chronic sinusitis patients. But Parker said in many cases the new balloon treatment is a better alternative.
"The technology is better, the results are great and it's tremendous savings to the patient to be able to do it in the office," he said.
Cox underwent the traditional surgery back in 2010, after years of suffering with sinus infections. "And, it was very successful. But it took about three weeks before I started to feel normal and I had shunts," he said. "It was hard to eat because you can't breathe real well with the shunts in your throat."
But eventually, Cox's sinus infections returned. So this time, Parker recommended Balloon Sinus Dilation instead of surgery.
Now, Cox strongly recommends this alternative: "One hundred percent," he said. "I suffered greatly. I went through five bouts of antibiotics treatments trying to cure whatever infection was in my sinus. It never was effective."
Parker said the balloon treatment offers patients years of relief from often painful symptoms. And he said it is covered by insurance. And now, it's available locally.
Parker urges local residents who are struggling with sinus symptoms to contact their primary care physician and get a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist. That specialist, he said, should be able to tell you if you're a candidate for Balloon Sinus Dilation.