Health Team

Surgery can help children breathe easier

Posted June 14, 2010 4:29 p.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2010 7:02 p.m. EDT

New research shows that children suffering from chronic sinus disease can benefit from a minimally invasive surgery.

Twenty million adults and children in the U.S. have the disease, and their condition gets even worse during allergy season.

Perri Konecky, 18, said that constant sinus infections used to stop her in her tracks.

"I was having runny noses, and my throat was hurting," she said, adding that she also got bad headaches.

As a teen, Konecky tried many treatments for chronic sinusitis. "I've tried steroids, 10 different sprays. Nothing really worked," she said.

Six months ago, Konecky had a balloon sinuplasty, which a recent study found is a safe and effective treatment for children.

In the treatment, a patient is put under general anesthesia, and a catheter is inserted into the nose. A balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to open the sinus. That permanently gives the sinus an outlet to drain fluid.

"It does appear that the sinuses stayed open, and the children had a 90 percent improvement," said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, who is an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat specialist.

Research indicates that balloon sinuplasty meets the tough challenges of performing facial surgery on children. "We're particularly concerned because their facial bones are still growing," Liberatore said.

The study of 32 children as young as 2 years old found that balloon sinuplasty helped them breath easier.

Konecky said the procedure made a dramatic improvement in her chronic sinusitis.

"It's nothing, not even close to what I was experiencing before," she said.

Doctors say that the majority of children with chronic sinusitis do not need surgery. Parents should consult with an ear, nose and throat specialist first.