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Nose and Sinus Surgery
While training at the Mayo Clinic, I was blessed by an unusual number of magnificent mentors. One mentor, Dr. Eugene Barton Kern, was particularly inspirational in this field and nasal and sinus surgery has become one of specific passion. To help our patients to breath and to relieve symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis is most gratifying. My own nasal septum has been straightened and my inferior turbinates trimmed with significant improvement. As I tell patients, “It’s not perfect but it’s a lot better and, as our wives tell us, we males can use all the oxygen we can get…”
In recent years, balloon sinuplasty has reached the news. This, too, is a surgery I perform though – having been active with this technology from the earliest stages – it is employed only in specific disease states. Why? Many of our patients include among their ailments headaches. While balloon sinuplasty is a very effective procedure, it does not allow endoscopic visualization and confirmation in the clinic of open sinuses. CT scans are helpful in this regard but I do not want to subject our patients to unnecessary radiation. Instead, I have been very pleased to combine a variety of techniques in sinus surgery to maximize long-term openings to the sinuses.
Nationally, the patient satisfaction rate with sinus surgery is 80%. As detailed earlier, our mission is to maximize medical therapy first – with special emphasis on sinus rinses – and, as a result, our satisfaction rate is well beyond 90% and my personal rate of revision surgery is less than 3% — much lower than the national revision rate of 10–15%.