Mind and Body

The 411 on sinus surgery

This new technique, similar to angioplasty, uses a balloon to clear stuffed sinuses


You have heard of an angioplasty, which opens up clogged arteries – so, how about a sinoplasty?

A sinoplasty is when doctors open up the sinus, clearing the air with a balloon.  The procedure is helping many people who have sinus problems breathe a whole lot easier.

“Most of my life, I’ve had allergies, hay fever, sinus problems,” said Jeff Atwell, who had the procedure done. “And just recently, they’ve escalated to where I couldn’t breathe through the right side.”
Surgery is Atwell’s last hope after years of medication and doctor’s visits.

“It's the first surgery of my life,” Atwell said. “I'm 48 years old, and I've never been in a hospital except with my wife and daughter, but never for me."

Dr. Sam Bahu, an ear, nose and facial plastic surgeon at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, is no stranger to sinus complaints like Atwell’s.

"They come to me very frustrated, saying ‘Doc, we've tried everything over the counter, I'm not improving,’” Bahu said.  
With balloon sinoplasty, sinus drainage and infections almost disappear completely, Bahu added.   

"We're taking a wire, snaking it up into the sinus, put a balloon cather over the wire then open up that balloon with a pressure unit that will structure the sinus open so it can drain better," Bahu said, explaining the procedure.

The balloon needs to stay open nearly 10 to 15 seconds, which is just enough to open the sinus. The surgery takes about two hours.
One week later, Atwell said he is a new man, and he is thrilled with the results.

"Now I feel 100 percent better.  I can actually breathe and get a good night sleep," he said.