Nasal drainage is a problem that plagues millions of Americans, with an estimated 10-40% of the population. There are many potential causes, from allergies and irritants, to reflux, to infection, but the most common direct cause is a hyperactive nerve that causes congestion, nasal swelling, and production of increased mucous.
Formerly there were two options to treat the condition, medications (such as nasal sprays), and surgery. The surgery, called vidian neurectomy, involved drilling away the bony covering of the vidian nerve and clipping the nerve, and often came at the expense of causing bothersome dry eye symptoms.
Fortunately as minmally invasive technology has progressed, we now have better, and more permanent options.
Clarifix technology uses a cryogen to freeze the posterior nasal nerve, inactivating it, and significantly reducing nasal drainage symptoms. The procedure is performed in the office with numbing alone. The numbing process takes 10-15 minutes, and the procedure takes about 5 minutes. Recovery is straightforward, and patients can expect some temporary congestion and crusting. Rarely, patients experience an “ice cream headache” for a couple of hours after the procedure.
Rhinaer also works to inactivate the posterior nasal nerve, using radiofrequency (RF) energy. RF is similar to microwave energy, and penetrates through the surface lining of the nasal tissue. Like Clarifix, it leaves the surface lining intact with minimal damage while inactivating the nerve deeply. During the procedure, mucous producing tissue on the inferior turbinate may also be treated directly, further reducing mucous production.
Our patient have enjoyed very positive experiences with these technologies. Most note a dramatic improvement in nasal drainage, and also an improvement in congestion. Our doctors are happy to have been the first in Iowa to perform Clarifix, and the first in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to perform Rhinaer. This means that they have a tremendous amount of experience to ensure that their patients get the results that they desire, and have a positive overall experience with the procedure.