Sinusitis is a condition that causes facial pain and pressure, sinus headaches, and recurrent sinus infections. It may be acute (lasting four weeks or less) or chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks). 37 million Americans suffer from these symptoms, brought on by inflammation of the sinus lining that prevents normal mucus drainage. For those patients who find medical treatment ineffective, a surgical procedure called balloon sinuplasty can bring relief from uncomfortable and painful sinusitis symptoms.
In the past, patients experiencing chronic sinusitis that failed to respond to medical therapy could opt for sinus surgery, a procedure that involves anesthesia, an operating table, and the removal of cartilage and bone. A newer option available to some patients is balloon sinuplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes small, flexible devices that are inserted through the nostrils to gently open blocked sinus cavities.
With balloon sinuplasty, inflamed sinuses are opened in a way similar to how cardiologists open up blocked arteries. A specially designed flexible catheter and guidewire are used to navigate the intricate sinus anatomy with minimal trauma and pain. Once inside the sinuses, the small balloon is gradually inflated to open the blocked sinuses and allow for normal functioning and drainage. Unlike conventional sinus surgery, there is no removal of bone or tissue from the nasal passage. Benefits include a reduction in bleeding and a quick recovery time – many patients are able to resume normal activities within 24 hours. Because it is an in-office procedure, there are no operating room or anesthesia charges, making it a more affordable option than traditional sinus surgery. Balloon sinuplasty isn’t appropriate for all sinus patients, but is an option for some depending on their physiology, anatomy, and CT findings.