September 1, 2012 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.
John Hanna D.O.
The discomfort can be, and
usually is, exhausting. Unable to
take a deep breath through your
nose, you breathe through your mouth,
which often keeps you from resting
when you sleep because your slumber
is interrupted by dry mouth. And when
you are awake, you seem to have a
headache. You sound perpetually nasal,
especially at this time of the year when
allergies irritate the sinus passages.
These are just some of the symptoms
of sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinus
lining of the nose.
The inflammation can be caused by
bacteria, a virus or by a blockage in
the nasal passage. Pressure from
congestion causes the headache
and that nasal sound in your voice.
Other symptoms include facial
discomfort, nasal discharge, fatigue, and
possibly eye infections. You just can’t
breathe normally, which means you are
not taking in as much oxygen as you
would if you weren’t stuffed up.
New technology available at the
CARES Surgicenter, part of the Saint
Peter’s Healthcare System, makes
it possible to open sinus passages
much in the same way arteries in the
heart or in the body’s peripheral
vascular system are opened. Instead
of using endoscopic instruments such
as microdebriders which require cutting
away at tissue, the procedure, called
sinuplasty, uses balloons to open and drain
the sinus passages. The technique is
similar to the one used during angioplasty,
when balloon technology is used to open
blocked blood vessels. Sinuplasty is
performed by an otolaryngologist, a physician
specializing in the ear, nose and throat.
When inflated, the balloon
widens the sinus cavities
by squeezing the bones
and tissues out of the
way, allowing the sinus to
drain properly and clear
any infection, explains
John Hanna, D.O., an otolaryngologist in practice in East Brunswick
and a member of the Saint Peter’s University
Hospital medical staff.
“It’s tougher than the cardiac balloon because
it needs to move bone and firmer tissues,” he
says explaining the procedure. During the
surgery, in which the patient is under general
anesthesia, the balloon is inflated for only a
couple of seconds. A thin tube with a light and
a video camera called an endoscope makes it
possible to see the results in real time.
The advantages of this type of surgery
include faster recovery. Unlike traditional
sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty requires no
cutting and no removal of bones and tissue.
This maintains the natural structure of the
sinus cavity and reduces pain, blood loss and
risk of complications. Most people can go
home the same day.
Statistics show that approximately
37 million people a year suffer from
sinusitis, making it one of the most
common medical problems in the U.S.
The sinuses are spaces behind the
bones of the upper face, between the
eyes and behind the forehead, nose
and cheeks. They are covered with
a mucus layer and cells that contain
little hairs on their surfaces called cilia
that help trap and push out bacteria
and pollutants. Each sinus has an
opening that allows mucous to drain,
which is necessary if your sinuses and
you are to remain healthy. When your
sinuses do not drain well, a buildup
of mucus usually occurs causing mild
to severe inflammation and its
Most cases of sinusitis are acute,
coming on suddenly following a cold, an
allergy attack or an irritation caused by
an environmental pollutant. It lasts for
a few days. However, if symptoms do
not go away for several weeks, chronic
sinusitis could be the problem.
The majority of chronic sinusitis
sufferers can be treated with balloon
sinuplasty alone, Dr. Hanna says.
Patients with multiple growths in the
sinuses or blockages in hard-to-reach areas
may need a combination of the balloon
and traditional surgeries. Sinuplasty can be
repeated if blockages return.
“Research has shown convincing long-term
success rates,” Dr. Hanna says. “Patients are
very happy with the results.”
For more information about the CARES
Surgicenter, visit www.saintpetershcs.com/caressurgicenter. To find an
otolaryngologist affiliated with
Saint Peter’s, visit www.saintpetershcs.
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