Up the Nose With a Rubber Hose


Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.  There can be pain and nasal congestion.  Acute sinusitis often follows a cold, but chronic sinusitis can last for extended periods and make people miserable.  More than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis, meaning symptoms last longer than two months or regularly recur. Patients repeatedly try antibiotics, decongestants or steroid-containing nasal sprays, but about a quarter are thought to get inadequate relief.  Sometimes, surgery is the best option for chronic sufferers.  Standard surgery involves cutting away bone in the sinus cavity to open the passage way and allow drainage.

This week, a patient asked me about a procedure where they stick a balloon up a patient’s nose and inflate it in order to ‘move the skull bones’ and help with sinus problems.  I thanked him for the idea for a blog article and began to do my research on what I was sure would turn out to be some wacko in a clinic in California (why is it always California?) sticking things up people’s noses and declaring them “Sinus Free!”

Instead, I got educated on a new alternative to the standard sinus surgery.  Balloon Sinuplasty is compared to angioplasty — you know the procedure where a catheter is fed through an artery and plaques are squeezed to the sides with an inflatable balloon.  With the sinuplasty, the catheter is inserted into the sinus cavity and inflated to open the passageway and promote fluid drainage and pressure reduction.  Inflating the balloon aims to stretch the sinus opening back to its original size or little bigger, thus letting air (and antibiotics) into the sinus.

The research looks promising for this technology and it is most certainly not a novel means of cranial adjusting as I initially suspected.  Whew.  Patients who have the balloon catheter procedure appear to have significant improvement in symptoms two years after surgery.

The best part is that the research generally scores patient symptoms using my favorite clinical instrument:  the SNOT – 20 which I discussed in a previous post.


Dr. Kinsler is a chiropractor in Rochester, NY.

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  1. September 3, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I sincerely hope that this relatively benign procedure (I say relatively because, as described, it does involve insertion of a foreign object into a body cavity) does offer some relief to the many patients who suffer with sinus problems. Best of all, it may prove to be helpful to those who cannot take antibiotics.

  2. Amanda said,

    September 3, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I learned about this on the E! channel. Apparently its the new rage with actors as well as boxers. The out patient procedure seemed to help them a lot or so it was portrayed on the television show.

  3. Darryl said,

    September 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Hi. I have seen a bunch of videos on YouTube (warning: do not watch right before or after eating!), and also read articles including one from USA Today. There is lots of info out there ….
    I had a CT Scan a week or so ago and was told of the balloon sinuplasty procedure as an alternative to traditional sinus surgery. my understanding is that recovery is much easier and that is a less of an ordeal overall.
    Again though, I am doing a ton of research on my own and talkign to my doctor. Always important to do your homework.
    Thanks for posting.
    peace / DMH

  4. September 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for the comments. Good luck in your treatment, Darryl. Let us know if this works for you.

  5. September 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Great site…keep up the good work.

  6. Kelli Garner said,

    September 26, 2009 at 3:19 am

    I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

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