Easing Chronic Sinusitis

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DICKSON CITY -- Chronic sinusitis is one of the more common chronic illnesses in the United States, and it affects people of all ages.

Surgery can fix it, but often the aftereffects are unpleasant or sometimes very painful.  Now, there's a new device that aims to make the recovery easier.

Karen Brown, of Mount Cobb, who suffered from chronic sinusitis for five years, says living with it was horrible.

"I always had an infection, always had difficulty breathing.  And it kept coming back," she said.

Sinusitis is inflammation and swelling of air pockets in the nasal cavity.  Symptoms include headaches, congestion, discolored nasal discharge, fatigue and tooth pain.

Karen says her sinusitis is gone now, thanks to Dr. Seth Linker, a head a neck surgeon at Geisinger's Northeast Surgery Center in Dickson City.

Dr. Linker wanted to show us what he used on Karen and on about 100 other patients in the past few months.  It's a stent infused with steroids and inserted into the nasal cavity during surgery.

"It stays in there for 30 days then absorbs by itself.  This translates to less discomfort for the patient post operation," said Dr. Linker.

The stent he showed us goes by the brand name Propel.  In the past, doctors would use steroidal gels and/or creams to keep the nasal passages clear, or they would physically pack them full of a material that would eventually need to be removed.

"Those who use packing have to remove it after a few days or surgery, and that can be painful for the patient," noted Dr. Linker.

Propel provides the necessary steroids for about 30 days before it disintegrates.  Dr. Linker says he has so far liked the results of the stent which he used on Karen, who says she is thrilled that she hasn't had a sinus infection since her surgery in October.

"You couldn't feel it.  It was like it wasn't even there.  It was great," she said.

If you'd like to know more about chronic sinusitis or the surgery that is sometimes used to relieve it, you can call Dr. Linker at  (570) 996-2700.