Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation System Now Available in the Black Hills
Jun 26, 2017 09:46AM ● Published by Digital Media Director
By: Virginia Olson
The Eustachian tube is not a body part that tends to get
much attention – until or unless it fails to work properly. In patients whose
Eustachian tubes are unable to drain fluid and equalize pressure, known as
Eustachian tube dysfunction, that can mean chronic popping, pressure, or pain
in the ears and even muffled hearing. Sufferers might describe their condition
as ‘bad ears.’
Loren Jones, MD, ENT, of Spearfish Regional Medical Clinic,
recently began using the Acclarent Aera Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation System
for sufferers of Eustachian tube dysfunction. This pioneering new device
designed to dilate the Eustachian tubes was approved by the FDA last fall and
is already bringing much-needed relief to ear pain sufferers across the region.
It is also helpful for people with barotrauma who experience discomfort when
flying or other changes in pressure.
Dr. Jones attended training on the new procedure in a cadaver
lab in California last year. He describes it as revolutionary.
“There is nothing else approved for these Eustachian tube
sufferers,” he says. “Prior to the balloon procedure, ear tube placement was
the only answer. Often times the tubes have to be replaced. This creates the
risk for infection and possible structural damage to the ear drum after
multiple tube placements.”
With the patient under general anesthesia, the device is
inflated to 6 millimeters inside the Eustachian tube and is held in place for
two minutes. During those two minutes, the pressure causes injury to the mucus
membranes in the lining of the tube. “The hope is that, when these membranes
regenerate, they will do so in a more organized and functional manner,” says
Most patients require bilateral treatment. The procedure
takes about ten to 15 minutes to do both sides. Early clinical investigations
with follow-up up to two years after the procedure have indicated that most
patients experience an improvement in symptoms and that the response is
durable. Dr. Jones now performs about
two procedures each month.
The Acclarent Aera Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation System
is contraindicated in cases of persistent Eustachian tube dysfunction and for
anyone under 22. Also, it is not recommended for people with abnormal anatomy
such as a craniofacial abnormality or for people with a condition called
patulous Eustachian tube.
Potential candidates for the balloon dilation procedure can
be evaluated using the ETDQ7, a scoring system that assesses symptoms and
outcomes. The tool can be found online or Dr. Jones’ office can supply it to
any physician interested in using it to evaluate patients.
Dr. Jones says not only is the procedure brand new, but his clinic’s offering of it is unique in the West River area.
“Until now, patients with persistent Eustachian tube
dysfunction have had no options and have had to live with bad ears,” Dr. Jones
says. “It is pretty exciting to be offering this special procedure here in