Eustachian tube balloon dilation
The Acclarent AeraTM eustachian tube balloon dilation is a procedure available at Shannon Clinic to help patients with ear pressurization problems, or the feeling that you are in a barrel and everything you hear is muffled.
The eustachian tubes, which connect each inner ear to the back of the throat behind your nasal passages, are responsible for ventilation and equalization of pressure on each side of the eardrum. The tubes also drain fluids and debris from the middle ear. Inflammation and mucus buildup can cause blockage and obstruct proper drainage, causing fluid to accumulate in the middle ear.
This is a constant problem for some people, especially those in our area who experience sinus and allergy issues. Other sinus and allergy symptoms can be controlled really well. We can fix the sinuses by opening them with balloon sinuplasty and allergies can be controlled with shots, but there are still problems with the eustachian tubes and the feeling of the ears not popping persists. Other people also experience excruciating pain during activities that place strain on the tubes, such as flying. The pressure can cause the eardrum to burst.
In children, eustachian tube issues are often corrected on the outside of the ear with the placement of ear tubes. This option is available for adults, but only 50 percent see improvement in their symptoms.
How Acclarent AeraTM works
The eustachian tube balloon dilation procedure allows the tubes to be opened up from the inside. During the procedure, which is performed in the office setting, an endoscope is inserted through the nose into the tube opening. A curved catheter guides the balloon into the tube. A safety mechanism keeps the device from traveling into the eardrum. The balloon is inflated and the tube is held open for three minutes. This pushes the cartilage open and causes tiny fractures in the surrounding cartilage and small bones in the area. This process forces the tube to remodel into an open position rather than reverting to closed.
The eustachian tube procedure will be offered in conjunction with balloon sinuplasty, a similar procedure which opens the sinus passages via a balloon catheter, for patients who experience chronic ear pressure along with their sinus symptoms. These two procedures combined only take half an hour to complete.
Eustachian tube relief has been a subject of research for decades. This new procedure changes the game for patients who have not responded to other medical therapies. We are proud to be the first to offer this procedure in West Texas to provide relief and quality of life for patients with this chronic issue.