Sinusitis affects 37 million Americans annually and although medications may help the majority of people, there are still many that require additional procedures for relief of their symptoms. Often referred to as “angioplasty for the nose,” balloon sinuplasty is an innovative procedure used for the treatment of chronic sinusitis. An endoscopic procedure performed under general anesthesia in an outpatient setting, balloon sinuplasty does not require incisions and cutting or the removal of bone and tissue. There is generally less pain, risk of infection, blood loss, bruising and swelling and many patients are often able to return to their normal activities in less time than they would from traditional “open” sinus surgery.
Balloon Sinuplasty Candidates
Balloon sinuplasty may be particularly beneficial to patients that have had their sinus problems diagnosed early. For patients with chronic, long-lasting problems, the procedure may be effective for some, though not all, of their sinuses. Typically, patients with the following symptoms may benefit from the procedure:
- Recurrent sinus infections that do not respond to medication
- Headaches around the eyes
- Chronic bad breath and/or foul taste in the mouth
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Chronic nasal problems
How Balloon Sinuplasty Works
A guide wire catheter equipped with a tiny balloon is inserted through the nostril in order to gain access to the blocked sinus passageway, the balloon is inflated, gently opening and widening the sinus passageway. The balloon is then deflated and withdrawn leaving an open sinus passageway thus restoring normal sinus drainage and function. Performed under local or general anesthesia depending on the patient needs.
Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty
Although there are risks associated with any surgery, balloon sinuplasty has been shown to be clinically safe and effective. Some benefits include:
- Since the device is inserted gently into the nostrils, there is no cutting or incisions (minimally invasive). Therefore, the procedure generally results in less pain, bleeding, bruising, swelling and risk of infection.
- Balloon sinuplasty typically involves no tissue or bone removal, often resulting in less bleeding. Nasal packing may not be needed.
- While recovery times may vary, most patients are able to return to normal activities in less time than with traditional surgery.