Relieve Sinus Pain with Balloon Sinuplasty
Balloon Sinuplasty is a revolutionary office treatment for chronic and recurrent sinusitis. Typically performed under local anesthesia, the surgeon threads a small catheter through the sinus opening and then inflates the balloon with water, dilating the sinus opening to promote drainage and alleviate pain. Most patients return to work the next day, and say that the procedure is no more difficult than having a tooth repaired.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Balloon Sinuplasty
Is Balloon Dilation for me?
If you have exhausted medical management for sinusitis, you may be a candidate for balloon dilation. Balloon sinus dilation is recommended for patients who have chronic sinusitis that persists despite antibiotics and steroids, or who have recurrent acute sinusitis at least three times each year. The ideal patient has mild disease on CT scan, with primarily bony obstruction as opposed to swelling. Patients with significant nasal polyps are not likely to be cured with balloon dilation alone. The best way to find out is with a sinus CT scan, which can be performed in the office at the time of your consultation.
What can I expect?
On the day of the procedure, we will spray your nose with decongestants and numbing medications. We will place more medication on a cotton ball near the sinus and wait about 20 minutes for maximum anesthesia. In many cases, additional local anesthetic is injected with a delicate needle until your nose is comfortably numb. Using an endoscope, we will examine your nose and place the catheter in your sinus, using a small light on the end of the device to confirm that it is properly located. Sometimes, we make a small puncture under the lip into the sinus. When we inflate the balloon, you will feel firm pressure and may hear a cracking sound. This is normal. The balloon is inflated for 5-10 seconds and then removed.
How long is recovery?
Most patients are ready to drive home 10-15 minutes after Balloon Sinuplasty, and resume normal activity immediately. Following balloon dilation, our patients took prescription pain pills for less than one day, and returned to normal activity in an average of 1.6 days, compared to 4.8 days following functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
Do I have to be awake?
About half of patients needing Balloon Sinuplasty are treated in the operating room, for reasons that might include anxiety, difficult anatomy or insurance restrictions. If you do not feel you need the services of an anesthesiologist, we can pre-medicate you in the office with oral Valium. You will need a designated driver following any oral sedation or general anesthesia.
Will I need nasal packing?
Light bleeding after any nasal surgery can be expected, but nasal packing after Balloon Sinuplasty is rare.
How long will it last?
Numerous studies have shown that the benefit of balloon dilation lasts at least one to two years in 90-95% of patients, which is as good as or better than functional endoscopic sinus surgery. We have every reason to expect that the improvement is permanent.
What are the risks?
The common risks of any office nasal procedure include pain, nosebleeds, fainting, and fast heartbeat following local anesthesia. Sinus puncture under the lip can cause lip or cheek numbness. Sinus surgery involves the modification of delicate bones that separate the nose and sinuses from the brain and the eye. Injuries to the brain or eye, including meningitis, spinal fluid leak, and blindness have been described in sinus surgery. Balloon dilation is felt to be safer than sinus surgery, but major complications are so rare that it is difficult to perform statistical comparisons. Look for a surgeon with experience.
What if my insurance company won’t pay for Balloon Sinuplasty?
Few insurance companies still consider balloon dilation to be experimental, despite compelling evidence showing that balloon dilation is better than functional endoscopic sinus surgery for selected patients. Anthem does not pay for sinus surgery unless the tissue is cut away to make an opening into the sinus. For these patients, I will commonly dilate the sinus first with balloons and then remove the smallest amount of tissue that demonstrates the open sinus while trying to minimize unnecessary tissue damage.