Lifewatch: New Sinus Procedure

LAS VEGAS -- Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from sinus problems.  Surgery can be risky and painful, but now there's a new procedure that has sinus sufferers breathing a sigh of relief.

New studies show, patients with chronic sinus problems miss more work and are less productive than people with any other chronic disease, including back pain and high blood pressure.

A new procedure called illuminated balloon sinuplasty gives hope for sinus sufferers.

"It's kind of like balloon angioplasty, like they were doing for the heart," said Otolaryngologist Ashley Sikand, MD.

A guide wire with fiber optic cable leads the way, lighting up the sinus for doctors.  Then, a tiny catheter with a balloon on the end follows it.

When the balloon is in the right place, it's inflated, expanding the sinus opening.

"You're actually moving the bone slightly and studies have shown that it stays in that position. It doesn't re-grow back and close off the sinuses," said Dr. Sikand.

The balloon is removed, and the patient goes home the same day.

The procedure produces the same results as traditional surgery, that would reshape the sinus with less tissue trauma, no incision, little bleeding, and a faster recovery.

The procedure is good for people who don't respond to antibiotics and other sinus medicines.

The entire surgery usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Reported by Kristy Ondo