A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure used to treat chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining within the paranasal sinuses. Once inflamed, the sinus cavities become a fertile ground for viruses, bacteria, and occasionally fungi to grow, resulting in infection. If it becomes chronic there may be a structural problem in the nose or sinuses. In those cases, a balloon sinuplasty may be recommended.
A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure during which a thin balloon catheter is inserted into the nose. The balloon is gradually inflated to relieve blockages and widen the sinus pathways. The goal of a balloon sinuplasty is to enlarge the opening of the sinuses, reduce blockage and improve sinus drainage.
Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty
Unlike traditional sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty does not require incisions, or any removal of bone or tissue, although, in certain cases, it may be used in conjunction with traditional surgery. Balloon sinuplasty has many advantages over traditional procedures. Benefits may include:
- Absence of surgical incisions
- No damage to surrounding tissue
- Lack of serious complications
- Shorter recovery time
- Reduced bleeding
Although balloon sinuplasty is an effective treatment for relieving many sinus problems, and has no reported serious complications, it is not appropriate for everyone. Balloon sinuplasty cannot be performed on patients who have extensive scarring of the sinuses, ethmoid sinusitis or nasal polyps.
The Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure
A balloon sinuplasty may be performed in a hospital, ambulatory-surgery setting or doctor's office. The procedure is commonly performed while the patient is sedated under general anesthesia but, in some cases, may be performed under local anesthetic. During the procedure, a sinus-illumination system with laser-tipped guides keeps the area well-lit so that the surgeon can see the site accurately. The physician inserts a guide catheter, that is attached to a wire and a small balloon, through the nostril and near the sinus opening. The balloon is inflated to expand the sinus opening. Another catheter, called an irrigation catheter, is then inserted to cleanse the sinus with a saline solution. After the opening of the affected sinus is cleared, the balloon is deflated and removed, but the sinus remains open. By gently reconfiguring the structure of the bones in the nose, the catheter restores normal sinus drainage, and keeps post-operative pain and bleeding to a minimum. Most patients can return home, the same day of the procedure.
Recovery from Balloon Sinuplasty
Patients may experience a bloody discharge for 3 to 5 days after the surgery. They may also experience pain and sinus pressure which can be relieved with acetaminophen. Patients should avoid using any type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) because they may cause bleeding. Nasal congestion is also common. Nasal passages and breathing should return to normal 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
Risks of Balloon Sinuplasty
Since balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, risks are minimal but may include: bleeding, infection or swelling. The great majority of patients experience relief from the symptoms of sinusitis, soon after a balloon sinuplasty procedure. Studies indicate that most patients experience continued sinus health for up to 2 years after the procedure.