Device offers comfort for sinus patients

July 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sinusitis effects one out of seven adults in the U.S, but surgery to correct the problem can have painful side effects. Now a bay area company believes it has a solution. It's been a welcome relief to Sherry Boschert, who loves the outdoors, but had recently suffered severe sinus infections.

"Since about January, some of my sinus's occluded so the antibiotics weren't even getting to the infection, so I was constantly sick," she says.

San Francisco ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Theresa Kim, MD recommended surgery to open her sinus'.

It's a common, but notoriously uncomfortable procedure... Especially in the first days of recovery, when packing is used to allow the sinus' tissue to heal.

"Patients who are packed with the traditional methods, it's really inflamed and swollen inside," explains Dr. Kim.

To help with that recovery, doctor Kim turned to a new device called propel developed by a Menlo Park based company called Intersect Ent. It's a collapsible ring that works something like a cardiac stent, expanding to keep the walls of the sinus' open after surgery. First it's collapsed onto an applicator, then placed into the repair sinus cavity, immediately after surgery. Once in place, the implant delivers an anti-inflammatory drug.

CEO Lisa Earnhardt says the technique is well established in other areas of the body.

"The theory behind propel was very similar to what's already used in cardio vascular devices where you're basically putting in an implant which opens up a passageway and in this case opens up the sinus' and then delivers drug locally exactly where you need it," she says.

She says the propel reduced the need for follow-up surgeries by nearly a third in clinical trials.

The device itself can be removed by the doctor or left to dissolve. Over time.

For Sherry Boschert, the result so far has been a more comfortable recovery from her recent surgery. But she's now hoping to see longer term benefits as her sinus' recover.

"If this means that I don't constantly get sick, it'll be worth it.," she says. "It's no fun living with chronic infection. I'm a very active person normally, but I haven't been for months, and hopefully that'll change."

Written and produced by Tim Didion


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