Although it may not be the most common topic of conversation in the world, it happens often enough that people talk about the fascinating medical treatment known as balloon sinuplasty. Chances are there won’t be an expert on the topic in your household, or at any party, you might be attending, so it should come as no surprise that conversation about balloon sinuplasty is sometimes fairly inaccurate.
For instance, many people have the belief that some cases of chronic sinusitis are too severe to be treated with balloon sinuplasty. There are often cases considered to be extremely severe, such as nasal polyps, deviated septums, and even sinus infections, which are often thought to be beyond the capabilities of sinuplasty to cure.
The truth is, there really aren’t any cases of chronic sinusitis or deviated septums, which are beyond the scope of treatment for balloon sinuplasty. Regardless of the type of problem, whether it be structural or otherwise, balloon sinuplasty can be a very effective means of treatment, which can help restore normal breathing for the patient being treated.
Who is a Good Candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty Treatment?
This procedure is generally offered to patients who have recurrent sinus infections, and which usually require antibiotics for treatment. In many cases, however, the treatment program using antibiotics is less than effective, and patients in this category generally end up experiencing three or more cases of sinus infection during the calendar year.
Other patients may have chronic sinusitis, with symptoms they’ve been going through for at least three months, without responding positively to any kind of antibiotic treatment. Since both types of patients would otherwise have to endure recurring episodes of sinus discomfort, possibly severe at times, surgery is indicated to rectify the problem.
In the past, surgical methods were much more invasive, and in the case of deviated septums, it was often necessary to remove tissue and bone to bring about a lasting medical solution. However, this was also a much more invasive process, which required a longer recovery time, much of which caused recurring discomfort to the patient.
How Balloon Sinuplasty Works
In a nutshell, here’s how balloon sinuplasty works. First, a small deflated balloon is placed in the sinus cavity, and then it is gently inflated for approximately five seconds. This will expand the opening and facilitate drainage. Afterward, the small balloon is deflated to make it easily retractable and is then withdrawn from the sinus opening. If there is more than one sinus passageway that needs to be treated, the procedure is repeated for each of those. This is a very simple outpatient kind of procedure which takes no more than one hour, during which the patient is kept completely comfortable throughout.
What You Should Expect from Balloon Sinuplasty
First, the nose is sprayed with a decongestant, and a local anesthetic is administered to the patient so that the procedure in the nasal passageways does not cause major discomfort. Specific target areas will also need to be anesthetized, and the physician will accomplish this by placing a small amount of anesthetic on gauze, which can be applied directly to the target areas in question.
Once the gauze is removed, additional anesthetic can be administered by injection, in the same way, that you might receive a shot of Novocain at a dentist’s office. In less than 30 minutes, the balloon sinuplasty procedure will commence.
A thin catheter carrying the balloon will be guided through your nasal passages directly to the sinus cavity. Once it has been positioned in place, the balloon will be gently inflated with saline for about five seconds, after which it will be deflated. The patient may be aware of a crackling sound and a sensation of pressure in the nose, but probably no more than that.
Once the physician has used the balloon to clear a specific passageway, it will be deflated, removed, and reinserted in another passageway if necessary. Once the sinus cavity has been cleared, the catheter, along with the balloon, is completely removed and any recovery procedure can begin.
Advantages of Using Balloon Sinuplasty
This surgical procedure is far less invasive than any type of procedure used in the past, so for patients who have not experienced significant relief from prescribed antibiotics, this is an ideal option for treatment. Although the majority of chronic sinusitis case can be managed effectively by antibiotics, there are still about 20% of all patients who require further treatment, in order to obtain the comfort they’re looking for.
Most people will have a great deal less discomfort during the procedure than any other surgical technique which could be adopted. Because of the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, recovery time is drastically reduced, with people often returning to work within a day or two after the procedure.
There is minimal bleeding associated with balloon sinuplasty because there’s no removal of bone or tissue necessary. Since all the normal anatomy of the mucosal tissue in the sinuses is preserved, and nasal passageways are cleared, people experience almost immediate relief in terms of any congestion, pain, sinus pressure, and even fatigue, which they were feeling prior to the procedure.