Restoring Breathing Comfort: Surgical Interventions for Deviated Septums and Chronic Sinusitis

Dr. Ramya Bharathi
Dr. Ramya Bharathi

Chronic sinusitis and deviated septums are more than mere inconveniences; they can significantly impair one’s quality of life.

A deviated septum occurs when the nasal septum — the bone and cartilage dividing the nasal cavity — is off-center or crooked, often causing breathing difficulties. However, chronically inflamed or blocked sinuses can lead to recurrent infections and nasal obstruction.

For many, a blockage in the sinuses or a deviated septum is more than an anatomical anomaly. It can lead to recurrent sinus infections or exacerbate symptoms of sinusitis — a condition characterized by inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses.

Chronic sinusitis, lasting over 12 weeks despite medical treatment, can significantly affect a person’s daily life.

In severe cases, surgery, known as known as endoscopic sinus surgery and septoplasty, is required to straighten the septum, and open the sinuses to improve airflow and the natural drainage of the sinuses.

However, medical advancements offer hope and relief, particularly in surgical interventions.

Dr. Ramya Bharathi, a Resident Physician in Otolaryngology at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, says the decision to opt for surgery is not something taken lightly by ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) Specialists: “We consider surgery when all other treatments, including medications and nasal sprays, have not provided adequate relief.”

The procedure, known as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), is minimally invasive and tailored to the individual’s specific sinus anatomy and issues.

Dr. Bharathi, an established figure in her field, has appeared in 10 peer-reviewed publications.

Providing valuable insights into effective treatment strategies, she says: “The goal of FESS is to clear the blocked sinuses and restore normal sinus drainage.

“It’s a highly effective procedure, especially when combined with postoperative care that may include saline nasal irrigations and topical nasal steroid sprays.”

Dr. Bharathi goes on to reveal the impact of these conditions, and their treatment extends beyond physical symptoms: “Patients often report significant improvements in their overall quality of life following surgery.

“They experience better sleep, fewer infections, and a notable reduction in facial pain and headaches.”

Dr. Bharathi’s expertise in this area is not just clinical. She profoundly understands the patient experience, emphasizing the importance of a compassionate and holistic approach to treatment: “It’s crucial to understand the patient’s lifestyle, work, and activities to tailor the treatment plan effectively,” she says.

Technology has played an increasingly pivotal role in sinus surgery in recent years. Innovations such as image-guided surgery provide surgeons with real-time navigation, enhancing the precision and safety of the procedure.

“These technological advancements have been game-changers, allowing us to operate with greater confidence and accuracy,” Dr. Bharathi asserts.

She also highlights the importance of postoperative care: “Surgery is just one part of the treatment. Adequate postoperative care is essential for optimal recovery and long-term results.”

Dr. Bharathi’s commitment to her field is evident in her clinical work and her role as an educator and mentor. She regularly participates in conferences and workshops, sharing her knowledge and experience with emerging medical professionals.

Her research in otolaryngology, particularly on the mechanical force in open tracheotomy versus percutaneous tracheostomy techniques, underscores her dedication to advancing medical knowledge in her field.

“Research is integral to improving surgical outcomes and patient care,” she states.

As a member of the Massachusetts Society of Otolaryngology and the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Bharathi is at the forefront of her field, continually seeking new ways to enhance patient care.

“Ultimately, our goal is to improve our patients’ lives,” she says.

“Whether it’s restoring the ability to breathe comfortably or alleviating chronic discomfort, these surgical interventions can be life-changing.”

Dr. Maria Koenigs is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, Division of Otolaryngology

Having worked with Dr. Bharathi and mentored her as an attending physician, Dr. Koenigs says: “Being professional and an excellent communicator with patients who are experiencing these issues is essential. Ramya takes huge pride in this.”

Adding Dr. Bharathi was ‘one of the easiest doctors she has had to mentor”, Dr. Koenigs said: “She is also a great team leader, another important quality.  Having a good bedside manner, relating to patients well and being a good listener is also important, as Ramya demonstrates in the care of her patients. She is the perfect example of a surgeon who considers patients’ concerns and opinions when developing an individualized treatment plan. She has composure and deals with challenges in a calm way.”

For those suffering from a deviated septum or chronic sinusitis, the work of Dr. Bharathi and her peers in the ENT specialist field addresses the physical challenges of these conditions. It also significantly contributes to the emotional and psychological well-being of patients.

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