Balloon sinuplasty is a relatively new procedure designed to relieve symptoms for chronic sufferers of sinusitis. Of patients that have undergone the procedure, 95 percent report total or near-total relief of their symptoms.
Even better, the procedure is far less invasive than older alternatives. Patients have reported quicker recovery times and less complications compared to more traditional surgical techniques.
Many ear, nose and throat doctors have celebrated the arrival of balloon sinuplasty, almost more than their patients. In the past, chronic sinusitis was a condition that was only resolved with endoscopic sinus surgery, which is still done frequently, and is also very successful in achieving relief of sinus complaints. However, endoscopic sinus surgery also involves removal of tissue and bone to open up the sinus passageways, with a longer healing period and a slight but still greater risk of complications than balloon sinuplasty.
With balloon sinuplasty, the procedure can be greatly simplified. Rather than cutting into tissue with surgical instruments, a small catheter is used to gently guide the balloon into the nasal passages. When the balloon is inflated, the body can naturally relieve the pressure and built up mucus within the tissue. Inflammation is allowed to go down on its own, with an average recovery time of two days.
This procedure has become less involved over time. Whereas early patients were required to use an operating room in a hospital and take general anesthesia, balloon sinuplasty can now be performed in an outpatient setting and in your doctor’s office with local anesthesia. Average procedure times have been reduced from 72 minutes to as little as 30 or less in some instances.
The effects of balloon sinuplasty have been shown to be permanent for a majority of patients. Studies have shown lasting relief after follow up times of 9 months and two years. Repeated procedures may be necessary in some instances.
Best of all, sinuplasty has a much wider possible application than other methods. Most children can safely undergo the procedure, and patients who have balloon sinuplasty are not limited in their treatment options for the future. Many common insurance providers cover balloon sinuplasty as part of their plans, including Medicare.
Balloon sinuplasty, while minimally invasive, is still a surgical procedure. Only a qualified ear, nose and throat surgeon will be able to help you decide if the method will be right for you.
Generally, people suffering from acute sinusitis will occasionally need to undergo balloon sinuplasty. Patients suffering with sinus symptoms for several months at a time, either intermittently or continuously, are more likely to benefit from the procedure. For more information on whether or not balloon sinuplasty will be right for you, visit our dedicated page.