By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Dr. Kevin Lollar has expanded the comfort level of his sinusitis patients with a balloon treatment.
Hannibal Regional Medical Group last year began offering balloon sinuplasty treatments for patients who had not responded to traditional treatments for chronic and acute sinusitis, which often includes surgery. The new procedure allows for a quicker recovery time and less discomfort.
"Without doing any cutting, we actually open the sinuses around the nose," Lollar said.
The tiny, medical balloon is a quarter-inch wide, less than half the size of a standard water balloon. During an outpatient procedure, these specially designed balloons are inserted in the nose and inflated briefly to restore normal sinus drainage.
Lollar described the procedure as inserting an inner tube into a door frame and inflating it to stretch a passageway. The procedure leaves the mucosa intact, but expands the area around it. The balloon stays inside the nose for 15 seconds as it remodels the nose and tissue.
Chronic sinusitis typically lasts more than four weeks and occurs more than four times per year, according to the Center for Disease Control. The chronic condition often occurs from nasal polyps or tumors, allergies or respiratory tract infections. Sinus inflammation can occur with virus, bacteria or fungus infections. Sinusitis patients often experience headaches, facial throbbing, trouble sleeping, bad breath and loss of sense of taste.
Sinusitis is one of the most common reasons Americans visit primary care physicians. Lollar said more than 160,000 patients have utilized this procedure for sinus relief since the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2005, but he's performed fewer than a dozen procedures since arriving in Hannibal.
"Most of the time, by the time they see me, they've seen a lot of specialists," Lollar said.
Candidates for balloon sinuplasty procedure typically have been experiencing recurring symptoms and extreme discomfort.
"It's not something that we use on every patient, but it's definitely a tool that we have in place for sinus surgery," Lollar said.