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Procedure debuts at NorthEast New sinus surgery provides relief

By Joanie Morris

Kannapolis Citizen

CONCORD — Barbara Strang has had a battle with her sinuses for quite some time.

When she was finally diagnosed with chronic sinusitis, she figured she would have to undergo sinus surgery the old fashioned way — through her upper lip and into her sinuses.

She soon found out that a new surgical process was available and it wasn’t her mother’s sinus surgery.

The paralegal has had pneumonia every winter for the past four years, and severe sinus problems prior to that. This year, when her pneumonia just wouldn’t go away, she was sent to Dr. F.P. Johns Langford of Carolina ENT Specialists. Langford specializes in otolaryngology — the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose, throat and head and neck disorders, including head and neck surgery.

“It was found that I did have some real bad sinus problems,” Strang said.

“Before the surgery, I had a lot of sinus issues,” she said. “Always kind of stopped up and stuffy.”

“Most people that have sinus problems have a self-limiting process that we can usually treat with antibiotics and other medications,” said Langford in a press release about the newest surgery. “However, there are some patients, like Barbara, that experience a condition known as chronic sinusitis, who usually require a surgical approach to relieve their symptoms.”

Langford was recently trained to perform a new procedure known as balloon sinuplasty, which involves the placement of a balloon across the opening of the sinuses.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, sinusitis affects 37 million Americans, leading to a wide range of symptoms from nasal discharge (runny nose) to chronic obstruction.

The new surgical treatment for sinusitis involves a small, flexible, sinus balloon catheter that is placed into the nose to reach sinuses. The balloon catheter — similar to technology found in cardiology, urology and vascular surgery — is gradually inflated to restructure the blocked nasal passage, restoring normal sinus drainage and function.

When Langford performed the surgery on Strang, it was the first of its kind performed at NorthEast Medical Center and only the second performed in the state.

“This new procedure actually takes the technology used in a similar process — cardiac angioplasty — and applies it to the sinus passages instead of coronary arteries,” said Langford. “Preliminary results using balloon sinuplasty have been very promising and we, as an organization, are very proud to be the very first in our area to offer this alternative treatment to sinus surgery.”

The new surgery was performed on Strang on Nov. 21 and she went home soon after the surgery was completed.

“They took me back pretty quickly,” said Strang of her visit to the hospital. The surgery took about an hour and she came home that afternoon.

“The very next day, I was very surprised,” said Strang. “I didn’t have any bruising and no pain.”

The only uncomfortable part of the whole process was surgical packing that was inserted in her sinus cavity to help with bleeding and recovery.

Since the surgery?

“I’ve seen a noticeable change,” Strang said. “I’ve noticed a lot of changes with my breathing.”

Contact Joanie morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@kannapolis citizen.com.

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