Eustachian tube balloon dilatation is a short day-case procedure, which is used to treat people who suffer with blocked ears or ear pressure symptoms. It involves gently stretching the opening to the Eustachian tube using a minimally invasive approach. The procedure is carried out via the nose using endoscopes and a specially designed instrument to access the Eustachian tube without the need for any incision or cut.
Approximately 1% of the population suffers with pressure symptoms in their ears. For some people this is only troublesome when flying, due to an inability to equalise the pressures within their middle ears as the flight descends. However, for others it can cause problems at other times, particularly after a cold or sinusitis, when it can be associated with hearing problems, ear popping, crackling or tinnitus.
These symptoms are thought to occur due to inflammation and narrowing of the Eustachian tube, which links the middle part of the ear with the back of the nose. Collectively these symptoms are termed “Eustachian tube dysfunction.”
These symptoms are usually treated with over-the-counter steroid drops or sprays; however these can prove to be unsuccessful.
Clinical studies of Eustachian tube balloon dilatation, carried out in the USA and Europe, have demonstrated high levels of technical success coupled with a low incidence of any adverse effects. Results of these studies can be found on the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) website. There is little to no recovery time with this procedure and you can usually return to normal activity the following day.
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You have a formal consultation with a consultant or other healthcare professional. During this time, you can explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have. We also discuss with you if any further diagnostic tests, like as scans or blood tests, are needed, and let you know if there are additional before we do them.
Our dedicated team provide tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit. And we aim to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
The patient information section for each hospital has details of visiting hours, food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all the other important practicalities.
Eustachian tube dilatation is carried out under a short general anaesthetic using endoscopes via the nose to gently insert a small balloon into the Eustachian tube orifice at the back of the nose. This balloon is inflated to open the Eustachian tubes then deflated and removed, restoring equal ear pressure without lengthy recovery time or stay in hospital.
The surgery does not tend to be very painful and only simple pain killers such as paracetamol may be needed on the day of surgery and the following morning.
You can expect to be back at work the day after surgery, however some patients may experience a temporary change in pressure or a feeling of fullness in their ears the first few days following surgery.
The benefits of the operation take some time. While some patients experience immediate improvement in their symptoms, the majority take up to one month to notice the benefit, with further improvements up to three months after surgery.
We will typically want to see you at one and three months after your Eustachian tube balloon dilatation procedure to see how you are doing.
On rare occasions, complications following surgery can occur. If you experience significant nose bleeds – please call us straightaway.
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Important to note
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.