Some sufferers of chronic sinusitis have found relief after undergoing a balloon sinuplasty procedure. This treatment offers a less-invasive alternative to traditional sinus surgery by expanding the sinus opening gently to allow better drainage of the sinuses. This can result in fewer runny and stuffy noses along with headaches and other problems that are often associated with chronic sinusitis.
Unlike regular sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty does not involve any cutting, tearing or suturing and only minimally restructures the bones around the sinuses. Balloon sinuplasty also involves less bleeding and pain and can be performed with fewer risks for scarring and other complications. A few days to a couple of weeks are needed for recovery time after most sinus surgical procedures, but people who undergo balloon sinuplasty can often return to work and other normal activities within one to two days.
Diagnosing Chronic Sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis is a condition that causes persistent inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and can block mucus from draining from the sinuses sufficiently. Sinusitis may be caused by allergies or bacterial or viral infections and often resolves within a few days or weeks, but chronic sinusitis occurs when sinusitis persists and is usually not able to be relieved with medications. A CT scan can be performed to better diagnose the condition and rule out the presence of polyps or mild sinus disease with primarily bone obstruction instead of swelling.
Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure
Balloon sinuplasty can be performed in a hospital, a surgical center or some other type of medical center by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist or another medical professional who knows sinusitis and how to perform the procedure correctly. To numb any pain or discomfort, general anesthesia is used to induce sleep, but local anesthesia may be used instead in some cases.
After the anesthesia is administered, a slim and flexible balloon catheter is inserted into the sinus passage. The catheter then inflates a balloon slowly to open the sinus passage more gently without being too forceful so as not to cause extensive damage to any tissue, bones or cartilage in the region. As the balloon is inflated and the sinus passage is opened up more, mucus and other blockages can be drained out more efficiently. A saline solution is also used in the sinus cavity to flush out even more of the excess mucus that results from having sinusitis. The slight restructuring of bone that results from balloon sinuplasty helps the nose stay more open for the long term so that the sinuses can continue to drain more normally. Less pressure will also build up with the opening of the sinus passage, which will provide further relief from pain and discomfort.
Even though balloon sinuplasty is usually highly effective, the treatment does not cure chronic sinusitis and does not guarantee permanent results. The length of time that the sinus passage stays open enough to let the sinuses drain sufficiently will depend on the extent of sinusitis that a person has along with other factors.
An antibiotic is usually prescribed after balloon sinuplasty to reduce the chances of any infections developing, and the medication should be taken as prescribed. Other medications may be prescribed to treat allergies and acid reflux before and after the procedure and should be taken as instructed. To keep the nasal passageways hydrated, the use of a saline nasal spray may be recommended. Additional aftercare instructions may be given by the doctor and should be followed to ensure a better treatment outcome.
To reduce the chances of complications, exercise and other strenuous physical activities should be avoided for approximately the first few weeks after the procedure. It is also important to be careful when blowing the nose and refrain from blowing it forcefully for at least the first few days after treatment.
Ideal Candidates for Balloon Sinuplasty
Most patients who have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis are ideal candidates for balloon sinuplasty. The treatment is often recommended for people who suffer from four or more sinus infections within a 12-month period. Anyone with significant nasal polyps, a deviated septum or other nasal passage deformities may not experience full relief with balloon sinuplasty alone.