Stent could be the answer for those with suffering sinuses

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A stent for the sinuses. Like a heart stent props open a narrow artery, a new device does the same for patients suffering with painful sinus problems.

Zandra Nicholaides, sinus patient: “Everybody around me was saying, ‘You’re always blowing your nose,’ and ‘How come you’re not eating?’ It was because I couldn’t taste anything. I was lethargic. I didn’t have a lot of energy.”

And it was worse when Zandra Nicholaides was on the job.

Zandra Nicholaides: “I’m a flight attendant, and as soon as we got to altitude, the pressure in my sinus passage, I would get this crippling headache, and it brought tears to my eyes.”

The crippling pain was caused by chronic sinusitis.

Dr. Robert Kern, Northwestern Memorial Hospital: “You’re reacting to things you inhale through your nose. It causes inflammation, which causes symptoms, and it really affects an enormous percentage of the population.”

Zandra’s case was so severe, Northwestern Memorial ENT Dr. Robert Kern suggested surgery to clear any obstructions like polyps and ease the inflammation.

Dr. Robert Kern: “We remove these very thin, bony partitions, and typically that promotes drainage of all the sinuses, allows the inflammation to resolve or greatly improve, and reduces the patient’s symptoms.”

And now Dr. Kern can offer more.

Dr. Robert Kern: “We put this in the nose and then this into the sinus cavity. This comes out and you can see it expands …”

It looks like a stent that might be placed in the heart, but Propel goes where few other devices have gone before – in the sinus cavity between the eyes and the nose.

Delivered by a thin catheter through the nose, the device is placed in the surgically cleared passageway where it expands against the lining of the sinus. There, it releases an anti-inflammatory medication that helps promotes healing and lessens inflammation. The implant dissolves in four to six weeks, but its effects are believed to be long standing.

Dr. Robert Kern: “Results at 30 days indicate significantly improved healing, and we think that if you can get it to heal open early on, patients are much more likely to do better in the long run.”

Zandra Nicholaides: “I have yet to have a sinus headache. I’ve been flying now for almost a whole month, and I’m up and down on the aircraft four times a day. And I’ve not had one sinus headache.”

There’s a new generation of sinus stents already in the works – a device that can be inserted during an office visit. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of the study sites. If you’d like to know more, go to

Dr. Kern’s clinic:

Dr. Kern’s profile:

RESOLVE in-office stent trial:

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