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Vol.25, No.1 Summer 2015

College-bound Student Athlete Finds Relief from Sinusitis

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East Meadow resident Nicholas Courtney is looking forward to starting his studies at Stony Brook University in the fall, where he will also serve as the kicker for the Seawolves, the college’s football team. He will head to school free of symptoms thanks to Maseih Moghaddassi, MD, Chief of the Division of Otolaryngology at NYU Winthrop, who recently performed surgery on the 17-year-old to relieve the terrible pain and fever he was experiencing caused by sinusitis.

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I’m honestly not worried at all to go to school now,” said Nicholas.

Nicholas’ headaches were so painful prior to his consultation with Dr. Moghaddassi that he made several trips to the Emergency Room thinking he was experiencing a neuro- logical event. Other symptoms included a sore throat, facial swelling, postnasal drip and difficulty breathing. While antibiotics relieved the symptoms temporarily, they would always return when he went off of them. More recently, according to Nicholas’ mother, the antibiotics wouldn’t even relieve the symptoms, only stop them from getting worse.

“The sinus infections kept coming back,” recalled Nicholas. “Anytime the weather changed, I was in pain, particularly under my eyes. I was getting sick a lot and wanted to find a permanent solution to relieve my pain.”

Sinusitis occurs when the cavities around the nasal passages (sinuses) become inflamed, interfering with normal drainage in the sinuses, causing mucus to build up. Characterized by a cough, facial pain or pressure, nasal congestion and headaches like the ones Nicholas was suffering from, sinusitis that continues for an extended period of time is considered chronic.

Nicholas’ mother, who is also a patient of Dr. Moghaddassi, brought her son to meet with the otolaryngologist in the fall of 2014. After ordering a CT scan, Dr. Moghaddassi determined Nicholas was an ideal candidate for a minimally invasive endoscopic technique using Propel®, a sinus implant that is placed in the nasal passages and releases anti- inflammatory medication over the course of one month before self-dissolving, helping to reduce scarring and eliminate the need for a second surgery to remove the device. Dr. Moghaddassi performed the surgery on Nicholas in February and to date, Nicholas has not experienced any more headaches or fevers like the ones that were interfering with his life so much.

“I haven’t been sick since and I used to get sick monthly,” said Nicholas, an athlete who plays a sport every season. He was able to return to sports a few weeks after the surgery.

“Nicholas is an active young man who had debilitating headaches and fevers which caused him to go to the hospital on more than one occasion,” said Dr. Moghaddassi.

“It was wonderful to be able to help him using a new, minimally invasive technology.”

In addition to Propel, which Dr. Moghaddassi describes as “revolutionary,” the surgery performed on Nicholas incor- porates other cutting-edge technologies, including image guidance, which provides a computerized image of the patient’s sinuses to guide the surgeon, and Balloon Sinuplasty. Balloon Sinuplasty involves the placement of a small, flexible balloon catheter through the nostril into the blocked sinus passage- way. When the balloon is inflated, it gently restructures and ventilates the blocked nasal passages to restore normal sinus drainage and function. The procedure lasts about an hour under general anesthesia, and the patient can return home the same day.

A patient is typically able to be active the next day – walk around, eat and speak comfortably – and can drive within 48 hours. Most people go back to work or school in three to four days. “Some patients refrain from having sinus surgery because of fear of bone or tissue removal, or post-operative packing. Those days are behind us, so there is no reason for these patients to suffer any longer,” said Dr. Moghaddassi.

NYU Winthrop’s Division of Otolaryngologyis committed to the highest level of excellence and delivering a full spectrum of care for the treatment of ear, nose, throat and head and neck disease. It is comprised of Board Certified physicians and offers the full gamut of minimally invasive and specialty therapies for both adult and pediatric patients. For more information about the breadth of services available within NYU Winthrop’s Division of Otolaryngology, call 1-866-WINTHROP or visit

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