About 31 million Americans suffer from chronic sinus problems which affect their ability to breathe, sleep, smell, and taste. Now there's a medical breakthrough that could bring relief.
Most people are familiar with the stents doctors use to treat heart patients suffering from clogged arteries. Now that same concept is being applied to clogged sinuses. It's an idea that's helping some patients breathe easy, for the first time in decades. Doctor Frank McGeorge has more.
64 year-old Mike Whitty says it's been a long time since he could breathe through his nose.
"College I started getting some sinus issues. Wound up doing the nasal spray thing," Through the years, it only got worse. "I was a professional tennis player up until I was 30. And so throughout that whole time, it was never breathing through the nose. It was always breathing through the mouth."
His chronic sinus problems made sleeping difficult and frequent flying for business downright painful.
"I would have to sit in my seat and just hold my face or have a hot compress on it."
"Within the last two years, it got to the point where it was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I just couldn't breathe."
He turned to ear, nose, and throat doctor Daniel Rontal who offered him something beyond traditional sinus surgery, it's a stent device called the "propel implant"
"We do our normal sinus surgery. Open up the sinuses widely. Let the air in. Remove the polyps, remove the infection. And afterwards, we place this device into the sinuses," said Dr. Rontal.
After doctors clear out the sinuses, they position the stent. It props the area open and slowly releases a steroid called mometasone to reduce scarring and inflammation.
After five or 6weeks, the whole device dissolves away.
What about potential risks? Well Dr. Rontal says the stent itself really doesn't add any risks, but sinus surgery itself does have serious risks, so it's important to discuss those with your doctor.
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