Balloon Dilation for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)
Have you ever felt a plugged feeling in your ears that sometimes results in pressure or pain? Many people experience ear pressure without knowing this could be due to eustachian tube dysfunction. In our Austin office, Dr. Slaughter is able to assess your symptoms and provide treatment if you are in fact experiencing eustachian tube dysfunction.
Where Are Eustachian Tubes?
The eustachian tube is the tube that connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. It serves to provide aeration and ventilation of the middle ear space.
What Is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?
When the eustachian tube isn’t working to adequately ventilate the middle ear space the middle ear will develop negative pressure. The basic idea is that the air in that space is being resorbed throughout the day and without new air coming up the eustachian tube there will be less air pressure in the middle ear than there is in the room. This means the ear drum will begin to suck into the middle ear space. When the ear drum sucks into the middle ear it dampens the mobility of the ear drum. This causes a plugged up feeling with hearing loss. The patient will feel like they need to clear or pop open the ear. The negative pressure in the middle ear can also cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear and the patient may feel the fluid moving around.
Blocked eustachian tube symptoms
The negative pressure and sucking in of the eardrum results in a feeling of the following:
- Ear pain
- Hearing loss
Other symptoms such as dizziness, off balance sensation, and ringing in the ear are possible as well.
What Causes Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
Eustachian tube dysfunction occurs when the tube gets inflamed and leads to a build up of fluid. The people most at risk of developing this are children, people who are overweight, and people who smoke. Common causes of ETD include allergy, sinus issues, a deviated septum, nasal polyps, and vasomotor rhinitis.
Past Eustachian Tube Treatment Options
The mainstay of therapy for years has been medical therapy such as allergy therapy. Unfortunately it is not very successful in some patients. In those patients that failed medical therapy all we have had to offer was placing tubes in the ear drum. There are many negatives of having a tube such as possible worsening of hearing, water precautions, and possible a hole in the ear drum that could require surgery to repair.
eustachian tube balloon dilation surgery
Now we can offer a new approach with XprESS™ ENT Dilation System in patients with persistent eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). In this procedure a small balloon is placed through the nose and into the eustachian tube without the need for any incisions. The balloon is then used to inflate and expand the eustachian tube for 2 minutes. The patient is in our office under IV sedation by a board certified anesthesiologist. There is no pain or recollection during the procedure.
What can I expect during recovery?
There is essentially no recovery after the procedure. Allergy medications may be given to assist with the dilation. Patients do not require pain medication and they can return to normal activity the next day. Most patients will notice a significant improvement in their Eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms by 8 weeks.
will I need follow up appointments to unblock my eustachian tube again?
The studies to date have involved 60 patients and have demonstrated long lasting results. The dilation can be repeated if needed in the future and it is important to also correct any underlying sinus or allergy issues.