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"The doctor has always been very thorough with my examinations, and explains everything so you understand what is being done, and why."

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A Solution for Sinus Troubles

Kristen Hahn, 32, suffered from ongoing sinus problems. In one year, she had five sinus infections due to chronic sinusitis, which caused her sinuses and nasal passages to become inflamed and swollen. And her deviated septum — the crooked bone and cartilage that separated her nasal cavity — caused breathing problems. The busy working mother of two needed relief.

“My problems got so bad, it was difficult for me to work out at the gym,” explains Kristen. “I wanted to run on the treadmill but couldn’t breathe.”

After trying many treatments, including antibiotics and saline rinsing, Kristen’s primary care physician, Alonzo Lorena-Chafart, D.O., affiliated with Hackensack Meridian Health Ocean Medical Center, referred Kristen to Thomas Brandeisky, D.O., an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician and plastic surgeon with Ocean.

For Dr. Brandeisky, Kristen’s case was fairly straightforward. She needed her deviated septum repaired and sinus passages opened to improve breathing and ease sinus pressure. But many of Dr. Brandeisky’s patients have more complex needs.

“We do an extensive evaluation on every patient to identify the cause of sinus problems. Patients may have the same symptoms, but their problems can stem from different reasons,” explains Dr. Brandeisky. For example, nasal and sinus symptoms can be caused by allergies, immune disorders, reflux disease, neurological disorders, past facial trauma, dental problems and much more.

“Often, we are able to treat sinus issues without surgery by addressing the underlying cause,” says Dr. Brandeisky. “For patients with chronic sinusitis who have symptoms for more than 12 weeks, don’t respond to other treatments and are not found to have a specific disorder, surgery is often the best treatment.”

To help Kristen breathe easier, Dr. Brandeisky performed a septoplasty to correct her deviated septum. He also opened the sinus passages with a minimally invasive procedure, removing
blockages to sinus drainage.

The minimally invasive surgery was performed through the nose using a thin, lighted tool called an endoscope. Computed tomography (CT) scans also helped Dr. Brandeisky carefully plan the surgery.

“Years ago, sinus surgery was performed as open surgery, which involved making incisions in the face. Today, we treat sinus disease much more effectively and less invasively,” says Dr. Brandeisky.

Kristen couldn’t be happier since undergoing her outpatient surgery four months ago. Today, she is back to her busy lifestyle without any breathing issues and has had fewer sinus infections.

“It’s like I have a new nose,” says Kristen. “I feel amazing.”


This article was published in the January/February issue of Hackensack Meridian Health's HealthViews magazine. Click here to view the full PDF.



John's story

In early 2007, when John of Manchester slipped on the ice while working and hit his head and shoulder, he was taken to the Emergency Department, treated for a concussion, and released.

But John continued to suffer persistent dizziness.

“I had these vertigo spells and couldn’t walk straight,” says John. “Rooms would move, and if I tried to watch TV I’d get seasick.” When another emergency visit and a full check-up by a neurologist still didn’t reveal the problem, John decided to seek the help of Thomas E. Brandeisky, D.O.
Dr. Brandeisky stated that John had a fistula, which occurs when the stirrup bone in the fluid-filled inner ear pushes through the small, thin membranes that separate the inner from the middle ear. This results in a leakage of fluid, causing a pressure change in the inner ear and problems with equilibrium. “We see problems like John’s following head trauma, or even after someone has lifted something too heavy,” says Dr. Brandeisky.

Although uncommon, the condition can lead to permanent hearing loss or an infection, such as meningitis, if left untreated.

“The test for a fistula entails recording eye movements while pressurizing the ear canal with a small rubber bulb,” explains Hugh Ferguson, M.A., CCC-A, an audiologist at Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Associates.

According to John, as soon as Mr. Ferguson administered the test to his right ear, he almost fell off his chair. “It felt like someone had slapped me,” says John.
Due to the risk for permanent hearing loss and possible meningitis, John was scheduled to undergo surgery the very afternoon he was diagnosed. The corrective procedure performed by Dr. Brandeisky involved a middle ear exploration, followed by a fat graft to seal the leak. The tissue was taken from John’s earlobe.
After the surgery, there was an immediate improvement in John’s vertigo. “His hearing was preserved in the normal range, but unfortunately his tinnitus, a ringing noise in the ear, has persisted,” says Dr. Brandeisky.

Looking back on his experience, John feels very lucky. “Dr. Brandeisky was very patient and spent a lot of time explaining everything to me and my family,” he says. “I really appreciate him recommending the surgery be done immediately, and I realize now how serious things could have gotten.”