Allergy season has many of us sniffling more than usual this time of year — but for some individuals, the sniffling never stops.
In the past, the only treatment that could end the sniffling without long-term drug use was surgery. But Dr. Peter Ventura, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Tooele City, has brought a new piece of technology to his practice that he believes could be a game changer for locals with chronic sinus problems.
The device, called a sinus balloon, is relatively simple. Essentially, it is comprised of a long, slightly flexible stick with an inflatable balloon and a light at the end. It is shaped and sized so that it fits within the nasal cavity, allowing doctors to remove a blockage without using a scalpel.
Ventura said he bought the device so he could better treat patients with chronic sinuses — a condition defined by recurrent sinus infections and constant congestion. The condition develops when repeated sinus infections cause scar tissue to accumulate within the nasal cavity, preventing the sinuses from draining properly.
Despite the blockage, the sinuses continue to produce just as must fluid as before, and the fluid begins to build up behind the blockage, causing ongoing congestion and pressure, Ventura said.
“It was basically like having a cold every single day,” said Jason Haupt, one of Ventura’s patients.
With the sinus balloon, Ventura said he is able to reach into these cavities and inflate the balloon to clear away scar tissue and other blockages. He said experimental follow-up has indicated 98 percent of patients who undergo the procedure remain symptom-free eight years later.
The long-term success rate, as well as the potential to end his ongoing use of nasal steroids, was part of the reason Haupt decided to opt for the sinus balloon procedure.
“I had a lot of concerns about the long-term effect of steroid use,” he said.
The procedure is not only effective, Ventura said, but is also more cost effective, because it doesn’t require full anesthesia or a day in the hospital. It has also allowed him to treat patients who wouldn’t qualify for surgery, such as the elderly or those with diabetes.
“It’s easier on the patient, easier on the doctor, and it’s safe,” he said.