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Up the Nose With a Rubber Hose

Posted Sep 03 2009 9:26am


Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.  There can be pain and nasal congestion.  Acute sinusitis often follows a cold, but chronic sinusitis can last for extended periods and make people miserable.  More than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis, meaning symptoms last longer than two months or regularly recur. Patients repeatedly try antibiotics, decongestants or steroid-containing nasal sprays, but about a quarter are thought to get inadequate relief.  Sometimes, surgery is the best option for chronic sufferers.  Standard surgery involves cutting away bone in the sinus cavity to open the passage way and allow drainage.

This week, a patient asked me about a procedure where they stick a balloon up a patient’s nose and inflate it in order to ‘move the skull bones’ and help with sinus problems.  I thanked him for the idea for a blog article and began to do my research on what I was sure would turn out to be some wacko in a clinic in California (why is it always California?) sticking things up people’s noses and declaring them “Sinus Free!”

Instead, I got educated on a new alternative to the standard sinus surgery.  Balloon Sinuplasty is compared to angioplasty — you know the procedure where a catheter is fed through an artery and plaques are squeezed to the sides with an inflatable balloon.  With the sinuplasty, the catheter is inserted into the sinus cavity and inflated to open the passageway and promote fluid drainage and pressure reduction.  Inflating the balloon aims to stretch the sinus opening back to its original size or little bigger, thus letting air (and antibiotics) into the sinus.

The research looks promising for this technology and it is most certainly not a novel means of cranial adjusting and I initially suspected.  Whew.  Patients who have the balloon catheter procedure appear to have significant improvement in symptoms two years after surgery.

The best part is that the research generally scores patient symptoms using my favorite clinical instrument:  the SNOT – 20  which I discussed in a previous post.


Dr. Kinsler is a chiropractor in Rochester, NY.

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