Balloon sinuplasty (BSP) is a less invasive endoscopic sinus procedure for chronic sinusitis patients seeking relief from uncomfortable sinus pain symptoms. BSP is very effective in opening blocked sinus passageways and restoring normal sinus drainage.
During the procedure, a tiny balloon is placed into the nose to reach the blocked sinuses, and the balloon is then inflated under the view of an endoscope to restructure the sinus opening. Congested sinus cavities are safely drained with a saline solution, cleaning out accumulated pus and mucus. The balloon is then removed and the sinuses remain clear, reducing the recurrence of symptoms and providing patients with long-lasting, much-needed relief.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis, is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. The inflammation generally occurs when viruses or bacteria infect the sinuses (often during a cold). When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs can grow and cause an infection. Part of the body’s reaction to the infection causes the sinus lining to swell, blocking the channels that drain the sinuses. This causes mucus and pus to fill up the nose and sinus cavities.
What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis occurs when the nose and sinus passages become swollen and inflamed, leading to a build-up of mucus as well as blockage of the drainage pathways. This condition often leads to recurrent sinus infections and painful symptoms.
What Are The Conditions That Cause Sinus Blockage?
The conditions that cause sinus blockage include:
- The common cold
- Allergic Rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose)
- Nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose)
- A Deviated Septum
What are Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis symptoms may include:
- Discolored Discharge
- Post-Nasal Drip
- Facial Pain and Pressure
- Diminished Sense of Smell
Chronic symptoms, for some patients, are worsened when infections occur simultaneously with the underlying condition.
When chronic sinusitis symptoms cannot be controlled with medications and other treatments, BSP is recommended as a more permanent treatment option.
Balloon Sinuplasty FAQs
What are the Advantages of Balloon Sinuplasty?
BSP is an effective sinus pain relief solution that offers patients several benefits, such as:
- Provides Long-Term Relief
- Eliminates Chronic Sinus Conditions
- Increases Air Flow in Nasal Passages
- Improves Drainage and Natural Healing
- Alleviates Headaches
How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Differ from Traditional Sinus Surgery?
The main difference between BSP and traditional sinus surgery is that BSP is a less invasive treatment option for patients. With traditional sinus surgery, bone and tissue are removed to enlarge the sinus opening, clear blocked sinuses and restore normal sinus drainage. Since traditional sinus surgery is a more invasive surgical procedure, recovery time is longer and patients experience more pain and scarring.
What if the Procedure Doesn’t Work?
Balloon sinuplasty isn’t 100% effective for all patients. Some patients may require a second procedure or an adjunctive procedure like a septoplasty or turbinate reduction in order to alleviate their sinusitis symptoms.
Can Other Procedures be Performed Along with Balloon Sinuplasty?
Many times, patients who are not a candidate for balloon sinuplasty alone, may have the procedure performed in combination with other procedures, such as a septoplasty. This is usually the case for patients who may have a nasal obstruction (e.g., a deviated septum or enlarged inferior turbinates), where other corrective procedures may be required and performed at the same time as a balloon procedure. Although these combination procedures are often times performed under a general anesthetic, using the balloon as an adjunct procedure greatly increases its effectiveness and usually shortens the recovery time. When multiple procedures are performed, this may require the patient to go to an operating room or ambulatory surgery center for care.
Does Insurance Cover Balloon Sinuplasty?
Most insurance companies and Medicare cover BSP. To be sure of coverage, patients should contact their insurance provider.
How Long Will The Results Last?
Most patients experience a lasting benefit from their BSP treatment and experience a significant reduction in sinusitis symptoms. Like with most procedures, however, there are some patients who may need to repeat the procedure or have an alternative procedure done at some point.
Are There Any Side Effects?
After surgery, there may be some bloody nasal discharge and headaches for a day or two, but these side effects usually subside rather quickly.
How Long Does It Take to Heal from Balloon Sinuplasty?
On average, most patients return to work and normal activities within 2 days. Since BSP is a minimally invasive procedure, nasal packing, stitches or other dressings are not required, allowing the patient to recover more quickly.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
Balloon Sinuplasty is an in-office procedure that typically lasts 1 hour.
Can A Patient have a Balloon Sinuplasty if Allergic to Latex?
Yes, the balloon catheters used in the procedure are made of plastic and do not contain any latex.
What Type of Anesthesia is Used?
Local anesthesia (lidocaine) is used for office-based procedures to ensure patient comfort. If the procedure is done in an operating room or ambulatory surgery center, general anesthesia is often used.
What Happens on the Day of the Procedure?
On the day of the procedure, the patient will be taken to a procedure room and given topical medications in the nose to help decongest and numb the area. A little while later the patient will be given an injection of lidocaine to numb the sinus area. Once the area is appropriately numbed, the procedure will begin.
Is Balloon Sinuplasty Safe?
BSP is an FDA-cleared procedure and has been performed on hundreds of thousands of patients since 2005. It is a safe, less invasive treatment as compared to traditional sinus surgery, as there is no cutting of nasal bone or tissue.
When Should You See an ENT doctor?
If you have had chronic sinusitis lasting longer than 12 weeks, you should see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor for a diagnosis.
Who is A Candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty?
BSP is often recommended for patients who suffer from chronic and recurrent acute sinusitis who don’t respond to medication. You may be a candidate for balloon sinuplasty if you have experienced any of the following symptoms on a recurrent basis:
Is Balloon Sinuplasty Effective?
Clinical research confirms that this procedure has been effective in opening blocked sinus passageways and relieving uncomfortable sinus pain symptoms for patients.
Is Balloon Sinuplasty FDA-Cleared?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the device used for balloon sinuplasty in 2005.
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- Weiss, Raymond L., et al. “Long-Term Outcome Analysis of Balloon Catheter Sinusotomy: Two-Year Follow-Up.” Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 139, no. 3_suppl_1, 2008.