Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Balloon Sinuplasty Is Minimally Invasive and Cheaper Than Conventional Sinus Surgery. Outpatient Surgery Eases Sinus Suffering

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Balloon Sinuplasty Is Minimally Invasive and Cheaper Than Conventional Sinus Surgery. Outpatient Surgery Eases Sinus Suffering

Article excerpt

Byline: URVAKSH KARKARIA

Beth Ford has battled sinusitis for more than five years. When an infection hits, Ford endures headaches, a runny nose, sore throat and coughing.

"When you have a headache all day, it makes it hard to work," Ford said.

The 25-year-old graphic designer has tried prescription medication, nasal sprays and antibiotics, but found little relief. Yet, her condition is not advanced enough to warrant invasive surgery - an unpleasant operation that removes bone and tissue to open up blocked sinus passageways.

Now, though, Ford is pinning her hopes on a procedure called balloon sinuplasty, now being offered in the First Coast at Baptist Medical Center Downtown and Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville is also expected to begin offering the procedure later this month.

The minimally invasive outpatient procedure takes about an hour or two, said Scott Scharer, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Baptist. Patients are typically back at work within a day. Conventional surgery, meanwhile, takes about four hours and requires a three- to four-day recovery period.

Balloon sinuplasty is about 65 percent less expensive than conventional surgery because it requires less time in the operating room, said Ed Hubel, director of surgical services at Baptist Medical Center Downtown. The procedure is typically covered by private and public insurers.

Sinusitis occurs when the lining of the sinuses become inflamed, usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It's an ailment that afflicts more than 30 million people annually in the United States. The sinus openings become blocked, preventing normal drainage of mucus. A single episode is called acute sinusitis; one that persists longer than about three months is called chronic sinusitis.

The balloon sinuplasty system uses a small catheter and balloon to quickly open and expand blocked sinuses. A small, flexible balloon catheter is placed through a nostril into the blocked sinus passageway. The balloon is then inflated to gently restructure and open the sinus passageway, restoring normal sinus drainage and function.

"Instead of cutting and tearing up [the bone], [the procedure] remodels the bone, it moves the bone aside," clearing the sinus passage, said Carlos Fernandez, territory manager with Menlo Park, Calif. …

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