Singing the praises: How a tiny device is easing the misery of sinusitis, one song at a time
June 19th, 2017
Julia Foster of Winter Park, Fla., has been plagued with constant debilitating sinus infections for more than 20 years, ever since she was in middle school. A professional classical and soprano opera singer and voice teacher, her symptoms of congestion and sinus pressure affected her personal and professional life, making even her teeth hurt. And what’s worse, it made it hard for her to do what she loved best: to sing.
Two sinus surgeries involving months-long recoveries and countless saline rinses, nasal nebulizers, antibiotics, and steroids provided temporary relief. But nothing worked for the long term for her and 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.
Chronic sinusitis: Ongoing suffering
Sinusitis is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S., affecting one in eight adults, Dr. Lehman explains. Symptoms include drainage of thick yellow or green mucus, nasal blockage or congestion, difficulty breathing, pain and tenderness around the eyes and nose, reduced sense of smell, fatigue and even depression.
The sinuses are comprised of cavities within the front of the skull that allow for natural airflow and drainage. Chronic sinusitis–inflammation that lasts longer than 12 weeks–causes the linings of these cavities to become inflamed and swollen. Treating this condition often requires a complex combination of medicine and surgical treatments, each carrying their own side effects and risks.
Sinus surgery to treat chronic sinus infections involves enlarging the sinus openings. Although sinus surgery can be effective, some patients can have their symptoms return within the first year – and Julia was one of them. She needed a third procedure.
How PROPEL sinus stent works
Dr. Lehman suggested that Julia would benefit from the use of an innovative technology called PROPEL sinus stent, which was approved by the FDA in 2011 and has been used to treat more than 100,000 patients since then. PROPEL is a tiny stent that a physician places in the sinuses after surgery. There, it stays in place to prop the sinus open.
Over the next 30 days, the PROPEL stent slowly releases an advanced medicine with anti-inflammatory properties directly into the sinus tissues to help reduce swelling. The entire device then dissolves in 30 to 45 days.
PROPEL has been shown to reduce inflammation and scarring after surgery and to reduce the need for additional procedures as well as oral steroids.
Julia was intrigued with the concept of PROPEL. “I really trust my doctor, so when he suggested that we use these PROPEL sinus stents, I was onboard right away,” she said. “I was really happy with the idea that it would keep swelling down, and keep everything open in there during the recovery.”
A successful outcome
“Before PROPEL was available, I had some significant challenges dealing with more complicated patients with intense inflammatory disease,” Dr. Lehman said. “Julia had a history of recurrent and chronic sinusitis issues that persisted. I felt that using PROPEL up in that area would help deliver medication right to that point of swelling and inflammation and make it heal better.”
And it did. Less than two weeks after the surgery with PROPEL sinus stents, Julia was back to performing at full capacity. Her recovery was easier and faster than from past sinus surgeries, and she feels much better as well.
Julia encourages anyone suffering from chronic sinus infections to talk with their doctor about their options.
“It's amazing that I could go from having such a bad sinus infection to have that clear, and to feel 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.”
Although many patients benefit from PROPEL sinus stents, results vary. Please talk to your doctor to see if PROPEL sinus stent is right for you. Your doctor can discuss the benefits and risks with you. Each patient experience is unique and Intersect ENT does not provide any guarantee regarding the response to PROPEL sinus stents.