Sinusitis is inflammation of the
paranasal sinuses, which may be due
to infection, allergy or autoimmune
issues. Most cases are due to a viral
infection and resolve over the course
of 10 days. It is a common condition
with more than 24 million cases
occurring in the United States annually.

A nonsurgical procedure for opening
blocked sinus passages has failed to
win over many otolaryngologists,
despite intense marketing efforts by its
commercial developer.

The procedure is patterned after
balloon angioplasty -- a balloon
catheter is snaked endoscopically into
the ostium and slowly inflated to
expand the opening and allow normal
sinus drainage.

It was developed by Acclarent, a
company based in Menlo Park, Calif.,
which began marketing the balloon
catheter device, sold under the name
Relieva, in 2006. It calls the procedure
"sinuplasty" and has trademarked that

Some 16 studies have been published
or presented since 2006 testifying to
the procedure's effectiveness in
relieving chronic sinus blockage.

Presentations last year indicated that
most patients with two years of
follow-up reported that benefits were
durable, with less than 10% needing
additional procedures.

Last year, another firm, Entellus
Medical of Maple Grove, Minn., won
FDA approval for a similar balloon
catheter system called FinESS for
treating chronic sinusitis.

But several otolaryngologists
contacted by ABC News  were less
than enthusiastic about this type of

"We have not found these techniques
and instruments to be more effective
than traditional endoscopic sinus
surgery techniques," said Greg Davis,
MD, MPH, of the University of
Washington in Seattle, in an e-mail.