Intranasal Cryotherapy

If you have a chronic runny nose and other treatments haven’t worked, intranasal cryotherapy may be an option to address it. 

When you have a constant watery, runny nose, it can make you desperate, searching for a treatment that works to stop this debilitating condition. Some of the main treatments, including nasal sprays, can help relieve symptoms temporarily, and sometimes are adequate for long-term relief. But for those who don’t find relief, or who don’t want to be on nasal sprays every day, there is another potential option known as ClariFix® intranasal cryotherapy.

What is intranasal cryotherapy?

Intranasal cryotherapy is an advanced procedure that freezes some of the nerve fibers in the back of the nose. In many cases, a runny nose is caused by these nerves (and the related glands) becoming overactive, which in turn causes the tissue lining the nose to produce too much watery mucus. John Craig, M.D, Division Chief of Rhinology in the Henry Ford Department of Otolaryngology, was the first in Michigan and one of few in the country trained to provide this advanced treatment.

Anyone who suffers from rhinitis (allergic, nonallergic or mixed) may be a candidate for intranasal cryotherapy, a significantly less invasive procedure than other traditional surgical options. In most cases, intranasal cryotherapy can be performed on an outpatient basis with only a local or topical anesthetic.

What can I expect during intranasal cryotherapy?

There are several steps to the in-office procedure, including: 

  • Anesthesia: Liquid numbing medication applied in the nose.
  • Device placement: The ClariFix device and an endoscope are placed into the back of your nose, where the overactive nerves are located.
  • Cold therapy: The freezing chemical (nitrous oxide cryogen) is applied through the device, through a small balloon on the tip.
  • Nerve freezing: This balloon is pressed against a specific section of the nasal tissue that contains the overactive nerves. You may feel slight pressure, a cooling sensation and some discomfort, but the treatment should not be painful.
  • Nerve disruption: When the cold temperature hits the overactive nerves, this injures some of them, to help reduce your runny nose symptoms. Not all nerves are disrupted, because this could lead to an overly dry nose. 

What can I expect after treatment?

Treatment only takes a few minutes, and most people experience minimal recovery time with little discomfort. One common potential side effect is temporary, increased congestion or runny nose for the first week while the tissues are healing. Most patients will begin to see improvement in runny nose symptoms within one to six weeks.

Intranasal cryotherapy is a new treatment that is still being studied, and outcomes may vary. The disruption of the nasal nerves can last for a different amount of time for each person, and you can get the treatment more than once. However, in cases where multiple treatments are not effective, surgery may be a better option. Henry Ford Otolaryngology offers the full spectrum of treatment options for chronic runny noses, collaborating with other specialists at Henry Ford as necessary to ensure both an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

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