If you have never heard of balloon sinuplasty, you are not alone, since the vast majority of Americans have likewise never heard about it. You would, of course, be much more likely to be familiar with the procedure if you had a medical condition called chronic sinusitis, or if you experience frequent sinus infections.
Since these are the medical conditions addressed by balloon sinuplasty, patients who are troubled by these medical conditions are much more likely to have heard about the procedure. There are millions of Americans who suffer from one of these two problems, and for many Americans, medicines can be used to clear up the issues, for instance by using antibiotics or corticosteroids.
When these treatments fail to bring about relief for the sufferer, the balloon sinuplasty procedure may be one of the best possible alternatives. Someone who experiences chronic sinusitis on a regular basis will typically undergo inflammation and infection in the sinuses, and this, in turn, causes a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms which can impact daily life.
Many patients experience at least one and probably several of the following symptoms: facial or nasal pain, persistent sneezing, strong headaches, and a constant sensation of pressure throughout the face and the nose. To alleviate these symptoms, the first step usually taken by the sufferer is to purchase over-the-counter medications or to seek prescription medication from a doctor, although this generally will only result in relief which is temporary. In the majority of cases, chronic sinusitis returns along with all of its symptoms, time after time.
Methods of the Past
In the past, patients had few alternatives when chronic sinusitis or sinus infections simply could not be managed by medication, and the only thing which would bring about lasting relief is an invasive kind of surgery. This surgical procedure called for directly accessing the area of the sinuses, and the removal of bone and tissue.
Since these are actual surgical incisions, it was always possible to produce scar tissue, along with a chance of infection, as well as some degree of bleeding during the procedure. On top of all that, the procedure was not always successful, and even if it was, the recovery time was often quite lengthy, and it would keep a patient out of work long enough that vacation time would be needed.
The balloon sinuplasty procedure is much less invasive because it only uses a small catheter to insert a tiny balloon into the sinus cavities where infection has taken place. Once the balloon has been expanded, the sinus cavity is also expanded, and a more permanent solution is experienced by the patient.
Due to the fact that so few people are aware of this relatively new medical procedure, there are undoubtedly a number of good questions about it which people would like answered before considering it as a solution to their own medical condition.
Questions Frequently Asked About Balloon Sinuplasty
- How is the procedure done? – Instead of surgical instruments which cut through bone and tissue, a simple catheter and balloon are used, and these are guided through the nasal passageways by a small camera. Once in place, the balloon is inflated so that it can unblock the specific sinus cavity being treated. If more than one sinus is being treated, the balloon will be deflated and re-inserted into the second or third sinus being treated. The entire procedure can be completed in less than an hour, and it does not involve any kind of blood loss or surgical incision. There is also no damage done to bone or tissue, which makes recovery time much less than any kind of procedure done in the past.
- Does the procedure bring about a permanent solution? – The most common reason that chronic sinusitis develops in a patient is that swelling or inflammation has developed in the tissue and bone surrounding the sinus cavity. With the swelling of the tissue, the sinus cavity itself becomes blocked, and that’s what leads to the congested feeling a patient experiences, as well as the blockage of ordinary discharge. When the tiny balloon is inserted into the sinus cavity, it is slowly expanded, so that a very gentle repositioning of the bone and tissue is accomplished. That in turn promotes a permanent re-positioning of the nasal tissue in the entire region, which means congestion is relieved and normal mucus discharge can flow again. Compared to medications which merely treat the symptoms, this is a much more permanent solution to the problem, because it actually addresses the underlying situation which causes all those symptoms. In studies performed on patients who underwent balloon sinuplasty, the majority were still enjoying the benefits of the procedure years after it was originally performed.
- Are all physicians able to perform balloon sinuplasty? – Not all physicians are qualified to perform the procedure. It has to be done by a qualified physician who is a specialist with ear, nose, and throat conditions. These physicians are known as otolaryngologists, and they have been well-trained in how to perform the procedure. Since it is a relatively new medical procedure, it requires that a doctor is certified to perform it on patients.