30 million Americans are suffering from chronic sinus disease and for most of them; the only thing worse than the congestion and headaches, is the thought of major surgery to correct the problem.
But as News on 6 reporter Joshua Brakhage shows us, a Tulsa doctor is using an innovative technique to give his patients long-awaited relief.
Sheila Stolorena had suffered from sinus infections for years.
Shelia Stolorena: "(It was almost) just incapacitating when I would have these headaches. And the antibiotics and the steroids would alleviate them, but it was just temporary."
She was looking for a permanent fix, and found it in "balloon sinuplasty." Doctor Michael Shaw has been performing the breakthrough surgery in Tulsa for the past three weeks. He's one of only 100 doctors nationwide.
"We don't even make any incisions. We have no cuts, we have no blood." Dr. Shaw showed how the procedure worked. Patients are sedated, and a guide wire is inserted through the nose. A deflated balloon slides up the wire, and into the blocked sinus passage. "I'm going to blow up that balloon, and it's obvious what's going to happen when I blow up that balloon. It's going to open that hole this is going through."
Doctors use a pump to inflate the balloon, re-open the passageway, and drain the sinus. Doctor Shaw says he can clear the head's six sinuses during a single procedure.
Shelia Stolorena: "It's a whole new perspective, and I'm very very happy."
Since there's no cutting, recovery time is almost unnecessary. Patients like Sheila can be back at work the next day. Dr. Shaw says the new procedure is nothing short of a medical revolution. "No, I don't have any questions that this technique and this philosophy is going to become standard."