Sinus Surgery by Fox Valley’s Leading Physicians

More than 30 million Americans suffer from the pain and pressure of occasional chronic sinus problems. And although some will find relief in decongestants, hot compresses, non-prescription pain relievers, or antibiotics, those with chronic infections will not respond to such remedies.

“Chronic sinusitis can turn into a devastating problem,” says Dr. David Hemmer, a board certified otolaryngologist and head & neck Surgeon in practice with Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat.

“A person’s quality of life can really suffer when they experience frequent episodes of headaches, facial pressure, and the misery of recurring sinus infections.”

To avoid complications, it is critical for the surgeon to know exactly where his instruments are in relation to these structures in the patient’s body. Selecting an experienced surgeon who is very familiar with complicated sinus anatomy is the most effective way to reduce complications.

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What is Image Guided Surgery?

In addition to experience, otolaryngologists at Fox Valley Ear, Nose, and Throat now have a safer means of treatment for patients requiring sinus surgery that provides a clear “road map” pinpointing the exact position of virtually any surgical instrument throughout the surgical procedure.

This exciting new development is called Image Guided Surgery, a technique using the Stealth Image Guided system from Medtronic. This state-of-the-art technology allows physicians to minimize the chances of sinus surgery complications, operate more thoroughly, and perform more difficult procedures. In essence, it allows them to actually see what they couldn’t see before.

Actual CT images of the patient’s sinuses are obtained and transferred onto a computer data disc. This disc is then uploaded into the Medtronic Stealth computer and transferred to a monitor for the physician to view. Traditionally in the operating room, surgeons have had to rely on their clinical skills and experience to transfer information from the CT images mounted in the operating room to what they saw through the endoscope (a special scope inserted through the nasal cavity used to visualize the surgical site).

But image-guided surgery provides a new and safer perspective. A headband with reference points is placed around the patient’s forehead and using a wireless laser pointer, the system collects surface data points to create a GPS system for the body. During the procedure, surgeons place the endoscope in the patient’s nose while correlating their position with the scan on the computer screen. This image-guidance system shows the exact location of the surgical instruments, so the surgeon can safely navigate through difficult anatomy.

Because this new procedure is done through an endoscope inserted into the nose, an open incision is rarely necessary. Almost all patients go home shortly after surgery and without as much gauze packing in their noses. The surgical precision of the image guidance system often means that less tissue is damaged, so recovery is faster with much less discomfort than in surgeries that previously required open incisions.

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