New Technology for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

The Eustachian tubes (ET) are typically responsible for equalizing pressure in the middle ear, but when the tube is not functioning properly, patients may feel pain, pressure, or a sense of fullness or clogging within the ear. People with Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) may also experience hearing loss and ringing in the ear. Previously, ETD was treated with medications or surgery with ear tubes. However, these treatment options never addressed the underlying problem of the ET. Failure to correct the underlying problem can lead to chronic symptoms such as fluid in the middle ear, ear infections and other long-term complications. ETD can lead to multiple sets of ear tubes, perforation of the eardrum, and cholesteatomas with in the ear (abnormal skin formation in the middle ear).

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Until now, there was no effective way to treat the underlying problem, which is the Eustachian tube itself. ACCLARENT has introduced a balloon dilation device that offers a minimally invasive option to treat the source of ETD. The technology is very simple, safe, and very effective. The procedure involves advancing a telescope to the back of the nose where the ET empties. A small balloon is then inserted into the ET and inflated for 2 minutes. The balloon is removed and the procedure is repeated on the other side. ET dilation is an outpatient procedure. Pain is minimal, and the procedure is designed for patients ages 18 and older.

Clinical studies for ET dilation have been very promising. Results have demonstrated a 99.7% technical success rate in ET dilation. Studies have also shown a greater rate of resolution of symptoms, return to normal eardrum function compared to control subjects treated with medical management alone. The studies also show a greater improvement in quality of life measures. Additionally, there were zero reported serious device- or procedure-related adverse events.

The only way to know if you qualify for this procedure is to talk with you ENT provider. He or she may order a hearing test first to evaluate the status of your middle ear. If you have symptoms of ear fullness, stuffiness, or pressure and your hearing tests show certain findings you may be a candidate for this procedure. Additionally if you have had several sets of ear tubes placed or you have problems cleaning your ears after an airplane flight, you may also be a candidate for this procedure.

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