Health Team

Suffering from sinusitis? New implant may be the answer

Posted March 13, 2014 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2014 1:43 p.m. EDT

— For 1 in 7 adults, spring means one thing – symptoms of chronic sinusitis, which causes facial pain, headaches, nasal congestion, loss of smell and taste. Surgery can help, but sometimes the inflammation and obstruction come back. Experts say a new implant may be the answer.

Masako Regan, 50, says she never had a problem with spring allergies until she moved to Raleigh 10 years ago.

“Right away, I started to feel sneezing, itchy eyes, and I used to have headaches, sinus infections,” she said.

WakeMed ENT surgeon Dr. Brett Dorfman offered Regan the same sinus surgery he's performed for many patients. Under general anesthesia, an endoscopic tool opens the doorways to the sinus cavities and removes growths called polyps.

“She has complete blockage of her cheek sinus here on the left (and) almost complete blockage here on the right, as well as the sinuses between her eyes,” Dorfman said.

For some patients, inflammation and obstruction returns, which may be treated with an oral steroid. Now, a new Propel implant that works like a stent can be placed after surgery. It contains a steroid, directly applied to the tissue.

“The use of the stent through the steroid, as well as the stenting effect it has, allows us to do a much better job at maintaining those openings,” Dorfman said.

Eventually, the stent simply dissolves. Regan had the procedure done two weeks ago and says she can already breathe better.

“I'm sleeping better. I have more energy,” she said. “I'm actually ready to go outside and enjoy the spring.”

The best candidates for sinus surgery and the new implant are those with significant sinus disease with inflammation and nasal polyps. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor about it now before the worst part of the spring allergy season begins.