What is Balloon Sinuplasty?
For the 37 million Americans in the United States afflicted with chronic sinusitis, an effective treatment that does not involve surgery is a welcome relief from the seemingly endless cycle of nasal congestion, facial pressure, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms. The inflamed sinuses are linked with infection, pain, and structural issues that affect health and breathing.
Patients with recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, who experience 4 or more episodes every year, may require intervention beyond medical therapies offered to those that suffer from an occasional occurrence. Patients with a recurrent or chronic condition can benefit from procedures that resolve the underlying cause, such as balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon Sinuplasty was originally introduced in 2005 for use in the OR when performing minimally invasive sinus surgery. Since then, advances in technology have allowed ENTs to safely use the device in the office under local anesthesia.
Balloon sinuplasty is a catheter balloon dilation treatment, similar to that commonly used in cardiac and vascular disease. The small balloons inserted into the sinuses are highly effective in restoring the opening of blocked lumens and restoring drainage. Relief is immediate and long-lasting, with excellent outcomes being documented for about two years out from the procedure.
About the Procedure
Dilation of the balloon pushes aside underlying bones to alter the structure and enlarge sinus drainage passages. The use of the device, compared to surgery, preserves mucosal tissue and mucociliary function. It avoids the potential of scar tissue and results in a faster recover for the patient.
Who Are Balloon Sinuplasty Candidates?
Patients who may qualify for balloon sinuplasty are individuals between the ages of 18 and 75 who experience problems with their sinuses that diminish their quality of life. Candidates with recurrent sinusitis make frequent visits to their doctor due to sinusitis symptoms, require the use of antibiotics 3 to 4 times per year, and are frustrated by the repeated occurrence of the condition. They may also be persons with chronic blockage and drainage lasting 12 weeks or longer who do not respond well to allergy medication or shots. The patient may have other conditions that prevent surgery or may be opposed to it for personal reasons.
The Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure
The minimally invasive procedure begins with the administration of local anesthesia to the site. The sinus is accessed from under the lip, which allows the surgeon to visualize natural openings through predictable anatomic structures. It also minimizes middle turbinate contact.
The catheter is placed with the use of an endoscope and the balloon is dilated. The entire drainage path is expanded while preserving mucosa and minimizing bleeding. Saline is sprayed into the dilated sinus to flush out mucus that may have built up in the area. After the balloon is removed, the path remains open. The entire procedure typically takes about 1 hour.
Balloon Sinuplasty Recovery
Patient recovery following balloon sinuplasty is very quick. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within 24 to 48 hours. The results provide extended relief for many patients and improve their quality of life substantially. Many patients do not require repeat treatment, though some with severe sinusitis may at a later date. Further treatment options are not limited by the procedure.