Technology offers relief for sinus pain sufferers(Sinus Pressure Relief)

For 15 years, Cassie Hilleboe lived with near-daily sinus pain in the form of headaches, migraines and sinus infections.

That all changed late last year when the West Lafayette, Ind., resident learned of a new, non-invasive procedure being offered to treat chronic sinus inflammation.

The technology — called Balloon Sinuplasty — uses a small catheter and balloon to force open narrow sinus passages and offers a promise of relief to the estimated 37 million Americans afflicted with chronic sinus problems.

Hilleboe researched the procedure and then made an appointment.

"It has been life-changing," Hilleboe says of the results.

The mother of two went from experiencing three migraines each week and at least one sinus infection every other month, to being pain-free.

Dr. Alexander Gorup, the doctor who treated Hilleboe, says he has seen a lot of patient interest in the new treatment option and expects demand to grow as the word spreads about the procedure.

Previously, sinusitis patients could only be treated through regular antibiotics, topical nasal steroids or the conventional surgery that requires bone and tissue removal to re-open blocked sinuses.

Many patients, like Hilleboe, opted to deal with the ongoing sinus pain rather than face the invasive surgery.

Gorup says Balloon Sinuplasty is a major medical advance, giving patients "faster recovery time and less post-procedure discomfort."

Hilleboe says her procedure took about three hours and afterward she experienced very little bleeding or pain.

While Gorup says not every patient is a candidate for the procedure, many — including children — are. And most insurance plans cover the procedure as they would any sinus surgery.

Hilleboe says the pressure changes from flying used to cause her some of the most intense sinus pain. But two weeks after her November procedure, she traveled to Las Vegas, pain-free.

"I just hope the word gets out about this," she says. "I know a lot of people are afraid to get (surgery) done, who would be excited about this."