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Blowing (up) her nose – Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner - 11/24/2015

OGDEN – When it comes to sinus health, just a little more space in a nasal passageway can make a difference.

A simple procedure called balloon sinuplasty is keeping patients from needing invasive surgery to get that extra room and flow.

“It’s like a clogged toilet,” said Nadim Bikhazi, an ear, nose and throat physician at Ogden Clinic. “You’ve got to get that toilet unplugged.”

He said patients who suffer through many sinus infections and pressure in their heads can spend a lot of time and money treating such issues with antibiotics — but the problems won’t go away until those patients get more flow in their nasal cavities.

Bikhazi said balloon sinuplasty — which stretches key areas in the sinuses with a tiny balloon placed and inflated inside the sinuses — can allow a patient to breathe easier quickly from an office visit. He said an office procedure saves much recovery time and out-of-pocket expenses, as the procedure is usually covered by an insurance co-payment and is less invasive than traditional surgery.

Bikhazi was the lead author on a multi-center study comparing the procedure to traditional sinus surgery.

The recently released results gathered of the 18-month study showed while those who underwent balloon sinuplasty had similar improvements to those with the traditional surgeries, those with the balloon procedure had less bleeding, took less time off work, fewer prescribed medications and no need for packing in their noses.

Bikhazi said he’s excited to educate the public about the procedure that’s becoming more widely accepted and available to those with mild to moderate sinus issues.

“Three times an increase in diameter is a huge increase to the flow,” Bikazi said, explaining exponential benefits to small amounts of increased space.

Dr. Nadim Bikhazi shows where the balloon is inserted on at CT scan of a patient's sinuses in his office at Ogden Clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.

Dr. Nadim Bikhazi shows where the balloon is inserted on at CT scan of a patient's sinuses in his office at Ogden Clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.

He said the simple procedure can permanently open an area of the sinuses by three to five times in a matter of minutes.

Bikazi said the procedure causes micro-fractures in the nasal bones, which heal in a more open position, causing improvements for those whose small passages have caused them problems.

Mary Beatty, who was Bikhazi’s patient for a procedure Tuesday, Nov. 24, was completely finished in less than 30 minutes.

The longest part of the procedure came when Bikhazi numbed the area and opened up passageways with a decongestant, which he did with cotton covered in medicine.

Beatty said she was pleasantly surprised as she could already breathe easier the moment the procedure was finished.

“It wasn’t painful,” she said. “Just a few little noises and movements.”

Beatty was planning a driving trip to Arizona the next day and Bikhazi said she’d be alert enough to make the trip.

“She won’t need pain medication afterward,” he said.

The procedure is recognized as a good alternative to surgery by more than just Bikhazi.

According to Alexander Ramirez, EMT medical director at McKay-Dee Hospital, the treatment is very popular as well as minimally invasive.

Ramirez said the procedure saves the risk of anesthesia. He said the procedure is covered by most insurance companies.

Bikhazi said now is the time many people start to suffer with sinus infections, with classic risk factors of colds and allergies.

Many times people get their first colds when they haven’t yet finished with their allergies, so “it stacks on itself,” Bikhazi said.