How a tiny device is easing the misery of chronic sinusitis

Julia Foster had been plagued with constant debilitating sinus infections for more than 20 years, ever since she was in middle school. A professional opera singer and voice teacher, her congestion and sinus pressure didn’t simply affect her personal life. It made it hard for her to do what she loved best: to sing. Today, Julia has found welcome relief in the form of sinus surgery and a tiny medical device.

THE DIAGNOSIS: CHRONIC SINUSITIS

Chronic sinusitis is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S., affecting one in eight adults. In her battle with the condition, Julia underwent two sinus surgeries involving months-long recoveries. She tried countless saline rinses, nasal nebulizers, antibiotics and steroids. Her efforts provided temporary relief, but the infections continued to return.

“Although the acute flare-up might go away, I’d still feel the wear and tear, and feel just kind of worn down from the sinus infection,” Julia recalled.

Sinus surgery can be effective, but some patients can have their symptoms return within the first year – and Julia was one of them. She needed a third procedure.

THE TREATMENT

Julia’s otolaryngologist suggested that she would benefit from a new, innovative medical technology – a tiny stent that a physician places in the sinuses after surgery. The device stays in place to prop the sinus open and slowly releases anti-inflammatory medicine over the next 30 days to reduce swelling. The entire device dissolves in 30 to 45 days.

Sinus stents such as Julia’s reduce inflammation and scarring after surgery and lessen the need for additional procedures or oral steroids.“Before [this device] was available, I had some significant challenges dealing with more complicated patients with intense inflammatory disease,” Julia’s doctor said. “Julia had a history of recurrent and chronic sinusitis issues that persisted. I felt that using [a sinus stent] in that area would help deliver medication
right to that point of swelling and inflammation and make it heal better.”

A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME

Less than two weeks after receiving the stent, Julia was back to performing at full capacity. Her recovery was easier and faster than from past sinus surgeries, with better results. Thanks to a tiny medical device, Julia has found relief from the misery of her chronic sinusitis symptoms – on and off the stage.

“It’s amazing that I could go from having such a bad sinus infection to feeling like everything is open,” she said. “It made such a huge difference, to be able to go into those performances feeling great; feeling like I’m at the top of my game.”

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