Last week, the Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery Unit (ENT) at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center performed surgery that uses innovative technology - expansion of the Eustachian tube with a balloon in patients who suffer from chronic problems equalizing inner ear pressure that can negative affect their hearing and/or quality of life. This innovative procedure only recently came into use in Israel. To date, it has been performed at two more medical centers in Israel. The surgery was performed by Dr. Galit Avior and Prof. Itzhak Braverman.
The Eustachian tube links the middle ear to the back section of the nose (pharynx) and allows air to flow into and out of the ear. The main function of the Eustachian tube is to equalize pressure, protect and ensure airflow in the middle ear. Most of us recognize the importance of this tube when we drive on windy roads, take flights or dive (extreme changes in pressure), which make our ears feel blocked.
Eustachian tube dysfunction leads to a decline in quality of life, due to the constant feeling of “fullness” in the ear, earaches and inability to tolerate changes in air pressure on flights, dives or other activities. About one percent of the population suffers from this problem and, over time, if it is not treated, it can lead to complications such as hearing loss.
Prof. Braverman and Dr. Avior during surgery to insert the balloon
Up until now, treatment included medications that alleviate nasal congestions, systemic or local corticosteroids, antihistamines and/or surgery to insert tubes in the eardrum. These treatments, however, mainly bypassed the problem itself and did not offer a permanent solution. In other words, the treatments and surgery were not sufficiently effective.
With the new technology used in the surgery at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, a balloon was inserted into the Eustachian tube through a catheterization technique that allows the cartilaginous section of the Eustachian tube to be dilated through the nasopharynx. The balloon is inflated with pressure for a short time, after which it is deflated and removed. The process is particularly well suited for people who suffer from fluid in the ear or have difficulty when flying or diving. It is designed to allow airflow and drain the middle ear, enabling the Eustacian tube to function better.
To undergo the procedure, patients are put under anesthesia, although the procedure is very short - about 15 minutes. Most patients are discharged from the hospital several hours later and return to normal function the day after the procedure. Dr. Galit Avior emphasizes that all of the patients who underwent the short surgical procedure were discharged in good health, but will obviously come in for follow-up visits to ensure that the procedure is effective in the long term.
If you are interested in undergoing the procedure, you will need to have your family physician refer you for a hearing test and tympanometry. Afterwards the Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery Unit (ENT) at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center will conduct an examination to assess your suitability for the procedure. For this, you will need a financial commitment form from your medical insurer.
For further information and to find out about having the procedure, call the department secretary at 04-6304664 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org