Q&A with Stacey L. Silvers, M.D.
Dr. Stacey Silvers, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at Beth Israel Medical Hospital in New York, talks about chronic sinusitis, a painful condition ...
(Read more)that can significantly impact one’s quality of life, and the minimally invasive procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty that is bringing relief to more than 330,000 patients nationwide. She has been named among America's Top Physicians in 2007 and 2005 and among America's Top Surgeons in 2006, 2004 and 2003 in both Facial Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology.
Q: What is chronic sinusitis and what symptoms do chronic sinusitis sufferers experience?
Chronic sinusitis is when the sinuses don't function properly. And the normal function of the sinuses is to produce mucus, to warm the air, to filter the air, and to moisten the air. If the linings of the sinuses get swollen or congested because the mucus that they naturally make doesn't get out and the air doesn't get in, patients suffer with persistent daily symptoms, which may include facial pressure, headache, congestion, postnasal drip, and chronic fatigue.
Q: What should patients do when they suffer with ongoing symptoms that won’t go away?
…For chronic sinusitis, initially patients will go on natural sinus washes, prescription nasal sprays, sometimes allergy medication when it's clinically indicated. When these simple, conservative medical managements fail, we then need to take the next step. And the next step is getting the doors of the sinuses open, so they function and they breathe normally. One amazing way to do that is something called Balloon Sinuplasty.
Q: How does the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure work?
A good comparison of what Balloon Sinuplasty accomplishes for the sinuses is angioplasty for the heart. Angioplasty for the heart just opens the blood vessels so there's better blood flow to the heart. Balloon Sinuplasty opens the sinuses so there's more air getting into the sinuses and the natural mucus that we make gets out of the sinuses. And, therefore, patients have less sinus pressure, less sinus headaches, less postnasal drip, better breathing, and less fatigue.
Q: How do physicians actually perform Balloon Sinuplasty?
Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, where we simply pass a balloon through the nose into the door of the sinus. We then inflate the balloon. This acts to widen the door of the sinus. The sinus will now function better, whereas air can get in and the mucus can get out, and patients' sinus symptoms are markedly improved.
Q: Can Balloon Sinuplasty be performed in an office setting?
One big advantage of Balloon Sinuplasty is it can be done awake, in the office, under local anesthesia. Many patients -- the one thing they fear about surgery is being put to sleep. So I think it's very comforting for patients to know that this is something that they can do in the office awake to fix the chronic problems that they've had for years.
Q: Does Balloon Sinuplasty alleviate symptoms for those who undergo this procedure?
The advantage of Balloon Sinuplasty is unlike a lot of prescription medications or over-the-counter medications, which have temporary fixes to chronic sinus symptoms, Balloon Sinuplasty, in many patients, can be a permanent fix to their chronic sinus problems.
Q: When compared with traditional sinus surgery which is more invasive, what does Balloon Sinuplasty mean for patients?
Traditional sinus surgery involves cutting at the doors of the sinuses. This can potentially lead to bleeding postoperatively, pain postoperatively, and oftentimes patients will take more time off of work. Cutting around the doors of the sinuses can also lead to scarring, and a year or a couple years after the procedure, patients can start developing sinus problems again. The advantage of Balloon Sinuplasty, which is a minimally invasive procedure, it can be done awake, under local anesthesia… and for a physician to be able to change and improve the quality of patients’ lives with such a minimally invasive simple procedure that we can do in the office is really remarkable.