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New Surgery Helps Sinus Sufferers

Many people who live in climates where there is a change of seasons often experience sinus problems. Sinus pain and headaches can be miserable, and for some, the only relief comes with surgery. But as VOA's Melinda Smith reports, there is a new procedure that helps sinus sufferers breathe more easily.

Oh, the beauty of spring! There are blossoms everywhere ... green grass ... it's a perfect time to enjoy the sunshine ... dogs in the park ... flying a kite.

But something else comes with all that outdoor activity: pollen and sinus problems.

It's a miserable combination: blocked sinuses, a headache that won't go away, constant pressure on the face. It can affect daily living:

Patient Michelle Lynch tells how it affected her. "I couldn't work. You can't breathe. I couldn't sleep."

The twenty-four year old had sinus pain for years. Doctors say an abnormal bone growth in her sinus was the cause.

Recently she tried a new treatment. Dr. Peter Catalano of the Lahey Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts says it often provides relief. "This is a wonderful, wonderful advantageous technology for patients."

Balloon sinuplasty opens up sinuses similar to surgery for clogged arteries.

While the patient is under anesthesia, a guide-wire equipped with a tiny balloon is threaded into the nostrils ... up to the blockage ... the balloon is then inflated to open up the passageway.

The balloon is then deflated and withdrawn.

Dr. Catalano says as the bones are fractured, they spread apart and surprisingly, the patient feels little or no pain. "The bones in the sinus drain are very soft, thin bones. They are extremely malleable."

Michelle Lynch went back to work the next day. "This procedure made a huge difference in my life. Since the procedure I can't say I've even had a headache, and breathing is so clear."

Now she and others who have had this procedure can enjoy springtime without worry.