Sinus Surgery Made Safer

A computerized system helps surgeons navigate delicate tissues with greater precision.
Sinus Surgery
Up-to-the-minute technology permits otolaryngologist John Hanna, D.O., to offer treatments for sinus problems that are more accurate and less invasive than traditional surgery.

Most people never think about their sinuses—until they become swollen or infected, a condition known as sinusitis. The sinuses are cavities in the skull surrounded by bone and cartilage and lined with a mucous membrane. In sinusitis, the membranes become inflamed and painful. Chronic sinusitis, which affects about 28.5 million Americans, often develops when fluids cannot drain properly because cysts or polyps block openings in the sinus. Otolaryngologists—ear, nose and throat doctors or ENTs—often have to operate to remove those tissues to let fluids drain properly—a procedure known as sinus dilation. And it’s now safer and easier due to a new surgical system available at the CARES Surgicenter, part of the Saint Peter’s Healthcare System.

The NuVent EM Sinus Dilation and Fusion ENT Navigation System helps surgeons precisely locate structures in the sinus and place the instruments needed to open blocked passages. “It’s a computerized system that allows me to navigate through the sinuses more accurately,” says John Hanna, D.O., of Otolaryngologist Associates of Central New Jersey, an otolaryngologist with Saint Peter’s. “I can perform procedures faster, with a lower risk of complications, and I can operate on more complex sinus problems more easily.”

Before an operation, a computed tomography (CT) scan of the affected sinus is taken. That scan is digitally integrated into the NuVent’s computer algorithm and compared with the real-time, three-dimensional image produced by the system during the procedure. The surgeon uses special instruments connected to the navigation system to pinpoint cysts or polyps, allowing for accuracy within 1 to 2 millimeters.

This system, which Saint Peter’s purchased in 2014, also includes the option of balloon sinuplasty, a less invasive way of opening blocked sinuses. “The more traditional approach is to remove tissues surgically, but now we can preserve tissue with less trauma by using a balloon to open the hole that drains the sinus,” says the doctor.

Along with polyps and cysts, more uncommon tumors, both benign and malignant, can be attacked more aggressively with the new system, says Farhad R. Chowdhury, D.O., an otolaryngologist in Old Bridge who practices at the CARES Surgicenter. “It allows for more complete surgery; you can get to more complex regions that are not easily accessible with more confidence and less risk,” he says. “I use the system for all my patients. There is no reason not to.”

Surgical systems like this have been around for a decade or so, Dr. Hanna says, “but their accuracy has really become excellent in just the last few years.” That has resulted in better outcomes with fewer complications, adds Dr. Chowdhury. That makes Saint Peter’s, one of the very few surgicenters in central New Jersey to offer the surgical system, Dr. Chowdhury’s O.R. of choice in the region. “Other places have navigation systems, but they are not as good,” he says. “I won’t do sinus surgery anywhere that doesn’t have this.”

To find out more about services available for you or your family at the CARES Surgicenter, please call 732.565.5400 or visit

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