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Breathe easy

Balloon sinuplasty clears clogged sinuses.

A revolutionary surgery is now available at Shannon to combat chronic sinusitis, a health problem resulting in more than 20 million doctor visits annually.

David Huchton, MD, and Clint Lasiter, MD, Shannon Clinic otolaryngologists, are the first physicians in San Angelo to offer balloon sinuplasty, the most advanced technology in sinus surgery.

“Balloon sinuplasty is the newest development in sinus surgery, a field that has evolved greatly over the last 50 years,” Dr. Huchton says.

The sinuses are spaces behind the bones of the upper face that keep mucus and air moving through their openings. Sinusitis occurs when the sinus openings close, causing mucus to become stagnant. Sinusitis affects more than 37 million people, and 7 million have chronic sinusitis. This health problem is more prevalent than asthma and may affect your quality of life.

“Initially, most sinus problems are treated with medication,” Dr. Huchton says. “However, medications prove to be ineffective for 20 percent of people suffering from sinus issues. Luckily, sinus surgery is an option when medications and other treatments are ineffective.”

How it’s done

The goal of the minimally invasive surgery is to unblock the sinuses while preserving function and maintaining anatomy. Balloon sinuplasty parallels the function of the coronary angioplasty procedure. A catheter is inserted through the nose and into the target sinus cavity. Then the balloon is inflated, gently unblocking the drainage passage of each sinus. The now wider passage restores normal sinus drainage and function, relieving the complications of sinusitis.

“Eligibility for surgery depends on a patient’s history and the degree of illness caused by the sinuses,” Dr. Huchton says. “Generally, candidates are those who have chronic sinus issues, such as allergies and persistent infections. These individuals ultimately have blockage of their sinuses, and the sinuses are not draining or aerating like they’re supposed to. The balloon sinuplasty technique allows us to make the sinuses drain better and reduce infection and the backup of mucus and bacteria.”

What to expect

The techniques used to perform the balloon sinuplasty surgery are far less invasive than conventional sinus surgery. The procedure, performed under general anesthesia, generally takes 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Patients have minimal bleeding and less pain and may return to normal activity in as little as 24 to 48 hours. In contrast, conventional surgery uses an endoscope and shaver to remove bone and tissue, possibly resulting in more postoperative pain, scarring and bleeding and a recovery time of 7 to 10 days.

“For patients with sinus blockage, this may be a one-time fix,” Dr. Huchton says.

Consult your physician to find out which treatment option is best for you. For more information about the balloon sinuplasty procedure, call Shannon Clinic otolaryngology department at 325-481-2283
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