What is balloon Eustachian tuboplasty?

Some people suffer with pressure symptoms and a feeling of muffled hearing in their ears, which can also be accompanied by squeaking or popping in the ears. It can also happen during or after flying. This is caused by the middle ear’s inability to equalise the pressure between the outside world and the closed box of the middle ear.

If you frequently suffer with these type of symptoms -  even when you’re not flying - you could have Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).

If nasal steroid drops or sprays haven’t worked in alleviating this, your GP or Consultant may recommend Balloon Eustachian Tuboplasty, also known as Eustachian Tuboplasty and Balloon Dilation Eustachian Tuboplasty. This is a minimally invasive procedure which widens the Eustachian tube in order to improve its function and relieve the symptoms of ETD.

I have a question about balloon Eustachian tuboplasty

How will I know if I need balloon Eustachian tuboplasty?

How will I know if I need balloon Eustachian tuboplasty?

During your initial consultation, your Consultant will ask about the symptoms you’re experiencing, such as:

  • A feeling of fullness in one or both ears, often associated with hearing loss
  • Pain and an inability to equalise pressure even after trying to ‘pop’ their ears on change of pressure
  • Popping or squeaking in the ears
  • Tinnitus

Further tests will then need to be carried out in outpatients to confirm a diagnosis.

These include audiometry (a hearing test) and tympanometry, a pressure test which may show objective evidence of abnormal middle ear pressure to confirm the diagnosis of Eustachian tube dysfunction. 

You will also be asked to fill in a validated questionnaire (the ETDQ-7) to see how high you score in the severity of your symptoms.

Who is likely to need a balloon Eustachian tuboplasty?

ETD affects about 1% of the adult population in the UK. Flight crew, pilots and scuba divers are often most affected because of the constant changes in air pressure which are part of these jobs. Those with concurrent problems with their nose and sinuses are also most often affected by these symptoms.

What happens during balloon dilation of the Eustachian tube?

Your balloon Eustachian tuboplasty will be carried out under a short general anaesthetic as a day-case procedure, which means you can return home the same day.

During Eustachian tube dilatation, an endoscope is used to gently insert a small camera into the nose to visualise the Eustachian tube opening, which is located at the back of the nose. A special balloon is then inserted into the eustachian tube opening and inflated to allow the tube to be gently stretched.  

How long does Eustachian tube balloon dilation last?

This balloon is inflated gently for about two minutes to open the Eustachian tubes before being deflated and removed. Nothing is left inside the nose or eustachian tube.

Is Eustachian tube balloon dilation painful?

Eustachian tuboplasty isn’t painful, but some patients feel the need to take low strength painkillers such as paracetamol on the day of your surgery and/or the following morning.

How long does Eustachian tuboplasty last and what can I expect afterwards?

The whole procedure lasts about 30 mins, and as soon as it finishes, you will wake up and be discharged from hospital 2 hours afterwards. Following your procedure, you can return to work after 24 hours.

Experiencing a temporary change in pressure or a feeling or fullness in your ears in the few days post-surgery is normal and will equalise in time. Some patients will notice an instant improvement to their ear symptoms, but more commonly it takes up to 6 weeks to feel the difference.

We’ll invite you back to our hospital for a check-up with your ENT Consultant after 6 weeks to discuss the reduction in your symptoms, and then a further telephone consultation at 6 months is usually all that is required.

Our Consultant ENT Surgeons

Mr Sharp

Henry Sharp

Consultant ENT Surgeon

Mr Sharp's specialties include rhinology and nasal plastic surgery.

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