Operation proves a breath of fresh air

ALL SMILES AGAIN: Julie Naylor can now breathe more easily and enjoy an active life, thanks to a pioneering operation.
ALL SMILES AGAIN: Julie Naylor can now breathe more easily and enjoy an active life, thanks to a pioneering operation.
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WHEN Julie Naylor lost her sense of smell, it ruined her life. Now new treatment has left her smelling sweet. Catherine Scott reports.

The fragrance of fresh-cut flowers was one of the scents that gardening enthusiast, Julie Naylor missed the most when she lost her sense of smell. The grandmother of three, from Ilkley, could not smell or taste anything for six months when she suffered from a chronic sinus infection that devastated her active lifestyle.

Now that’s all changed, after she became one of the first patients in Yorkshire to have a Balloon Sinuplasty, a minimally-invasive surgical operation that is relatively new to the UK.

Julie, a retired doctor’s receptionist, can now breathe a sigh of relief as she gets her life back on track.

“I went for the surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital and came home the same day,” explains Julie

“When I woke up the next morning, I was free of pain and the first thing I could smell was coffee. I walked out into my garden and smelled the flowers.

“It’s fantastic, I feel like I have got my life back.”

The problem started in July last year when her sinuses became infected.

As a result, Julie, 57, had to give up many of her favourite activities, including gardening, gym visits and taking her grandson swimming, because of the devastating symptoms.

“I was in constant pain and suffered from heavy mucous and was blowing my nose every 15 minutes throughout the day.

“I had difficulty sleeping and felt completely exhausted,” she said. “I had no sense of smell or taste and lost nearly a stone in weight.”

Julie’s GP prescribed antibiotics but Julie and her husband, Peter, became increasingly worried as the symptoms persisted.

Four months after the onset of the problem, she went back to her GP who referred her to specialist consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon Mr Gerard Kelly, at Spire Leeds Hospital.

Mr Kelly advised her of her surgical options, one of which was a procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty.

Julie decided it was her best option for her and underwent surgery as a day case in February.

Mr Kelly explained that Balloon Sinuplasty was a minimally invasive technique without incisions or the unpleasant nasal packing associated with other types of sinus surgery.

“In my view, the new technology offers a real advance in sinus surgery,” he said.

“Relatively few – about 3,000 – of these operations have now been done in the UK. The first such operation was carried out in the UK only in 2007 and Julie was one of the first to have the procedure carried out in West Yorkshire, and one of the first to have the operation at Spire Leeds Hospital.”

Balloon Sinuplasty uses a small, flexible balloon catheter to open up blocked sinus passageways. When the balloon is inflated, it gently restructures and widens the walls of the blocked sinus passageways while maintaining the integrity of the sinus linings.

Mr Kelly explained “The sinuses are spaces which should be filled with air, but in sinusitis, these spaces are filled with infected tissue or fluid.

“Opening these channels allows the sinuses to drain and helps stops the cycle of infection and blockage.”

Julie felt the effects immediately following the surgery.

A week later, she was not blowing her nose at all and within days she had resumed her busy lifestyle.

“I feel fully rejuvenated and full of beans,” she said, “It’s great to get back to my daily gym workouts and to be able to take my grandson, Reuben, swimming again.” “What’s more, I’m soon going to be extra busy as we have our fourth grandchild on the way.”


Sinusitis (also commonly referred to as rhinosinusitis) affects nine million people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the UK. It is more prevalent than heart disease and asthma and has a greater impact on quality of life than chronic back pain or congestive heart failure. Symptoms may significantly affect people physically, functionally, and emotionally. Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. Treatment with antibiotics or nasal steroid sprays is often successful. However, at least 20 per cent of patients do not respond adequately to medications. For more information, visit www.spirehealthcare.com/Leeds