New procedure to help those with sinus trouble

Many people suffer from sinus trouble. In fact, Philadelphia sometimes makes the list for worst places for allergy and sinus sufferers.

New technology is now bringing a surgical fix once reserved for hospitals into the doctor's office.

Cheryl Werkiser has lived with chronic sinus problems most of her adult life.

"Pressure. I have stuffiness, you know, the headaches behind the eyes," she explained.

Colds often turned into sinus infections, and even pneumonia.

"This last time, I was on an antibiotic for 21 days," Werkiser said.

Tired of the daily misery, Cheryl went to seen ear, nose and throat specialist Warren Zager.

Dr. Zager said Cheryl needed surgery called balloon sinuplasty to open the sinus passages. It's been done in hospitals for almost 10 years, but smaller imaging equipment makes it possible to do in the office now.

After the sinuses are thoroughly numbed, Dr. Zager put a tiny LED fiber light into the sinus cavity.

Where passages are narrowed, he inflates a small balloon, similar to the way doctors open blocked heart arteries.

It opens pathways and improve drainage, without cutting tissue or bone.

Dr. Zager says, "It actually does it by micro-fracturing the bone, and the bone then gets remodeled and heals in the open position."

"There's no tissue removed so there's almost no risk for scarring in the nasal cavities," he said.

Beverly Samson felt relief right after her procedure.

"My sinuses were clear," she said. "I couldn't believe the difference. The headaches have disappeared totally."

Even bumps on her nose from swollen sinuses have disappeared.

Cheryl was breathing easier minutes after the surgery, saying, "I don't feel as stuffy as I did, I can definitely feel that I'm breathing a little bit stronger."

The hospital version of the balloon procedure was approved nine years ago, with the in-office devices approved several years ago.

It's not for patient who have polyps in their sinus or whose problem is in the back sinuses.

As a whole, more than 90-percent of patients get some relief, and studies show relief can last nine months to two years or even longer.

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