The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. It keeps air pressure and fluid from building up inside the middle ear. When it fails to open or close properly, this causes eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). Symptoms include muffled hearing, ear fullness, tinnitus and vertigo. Chronic ETD can lead to hearing loss, otitis media, tympanic membrane perforation and cholesteatomas.
Penn State Health Otolaryngology offers a minimally invasive procedure to relieve chronic ETD called Eustachian tube balloon dilation. The surgeon inserts a balloon catheter filled with saline solution through the nose and into the eustachian tube. The balloon inflates, opening the eustachian tube and allowing air to flow through. Once the tube is open, the surgeon deflates the balloon and removes it.
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