Sinusitis, or a painful inflammation of the sinuses, affects almost one in eight Americans who battle colds. The stuffy feeling, pain and inflammation can last for weeks as the sinus drainage passages struggle to clear up. It is difficult to breathe; pounding headaches plague the patient. Now, however, a new outpatient treatment called balloon sinuplasty is available that allows those with chronic sinusitis to get instant relief without going under the knife.
This treatment has been available since around 2005 and is similar to the procedure often used as a part of open heart surgery. In the cardiovascular version of this procedure, doctors insert a small balloon into the heart arteries and inflate the balloon, which opens up the artery to allow increased blood flow.
ENT physicians decided that this treatment could be adapted for patients suffering from chronic sinusitis. When used to treat sinus blockage, it is minimally invasive and offers almost instant relief from the pain and pressure in an outpatient procedure.
Patients who receive this treatment sit upright in a chair while a lighted camera scope is placed into the nasal cavity to help locate the sinus blockage. When the obstruction is located, a probe with a tiny balloon only 18 millimeters long is also placed inside. The balloon is then inflated using saline solution. This opens up the sinus passages and allows for the creation of new drainage passages. In many cases, relief is instant and patients find they can breathe much easier and feel improved airflow through the nose.
Not only does the procedure move obstacles to drainage, it opens up the sinuses so that they can more quickly and easily heal from the inflammation. People have four sinus cavities, all of which can be opened with this procedure. The process takes about an hour total, and during treatment doctors can even remove nasal polyps and other obstructions. Recovery time is usually two days before patients can be back to normal daily activities.
One of the best things about balloon sinuplasty is that the results are very long-lasting. In fact, many patients who experience the procedure report that two years later they are still experiencing its benefits with far fewer incidents of recurrent chronic sinusitis.
There are few to no side effects experienced from this surgery, and most patients say that at their follow-up visit they experience very little bleeding and no ill feelings. In fact, many patients do not even require pain medications to deal with the after effects.
If you suffer from the painful pressure and blockage of chronic sinusitis, there is no reason to spend weeks waiting for recovery. We may be able to help. Take a look over our sinusitis information page and give us a call for an appointment today to see if balloon sinuplasty is the right approach for you.