Sinuses are hollow air filled spaces in the skull, found between the eyes (ethmoid sinus), the forehead (frontal sinus), nose (sphenoid sinus) and cheek bones (maxillary sinus). The sinuses are lined with mucus secreting cells. This mucus traps the germs and the pollutants in the sinuses and is drained, through the opening of the sinus, into the nasal cavity. This keeps the sinuses clean and healthy.
Sinusitis refers to the inflammation of the mucus lining of the sinus and is often preceded by a cold or allergic attack. Inflammation of the sinus lining causes them to swell which blocks the passage preventing normal mucus drainage. The mucus now accumulates in the sinus, increasing the pressure within the sinus and leads to recurrent sinus infections. The symptoms of sinusitis include pain, tenderness and swelling around the eye, cheeks, nose or forehead and nasal congestion with thick, yellow or green mucus discharge and reduced sense of smell and taste. Other symptoms may include ear pain, bad breath, fatigue, nausea, teeth pain, sore throat and cough. In majority of the cases sinusitis is acute; symptoms lasting beyond 3 months cause chronic sinusitis which impacts the quality of life of the patient.
Traditional treatment for chronic sinusitis includes medication along with natural remedies. However, many patients with chronic sinusitis don’t respond to medication. Sinus surgery is advised in these patients. Sinus surgery involves the removal of bone and soft tissue from the blocked sinuses, to enlarge the sinus passage and restore normal sinus drainage. This is associated with post-operative pain and scarring.
Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that provides long term relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. A balloon catheter, a soft flexible device, is inserted through one of the nostrils of the patient into the inflamed sinus, using endoscopic visualization. The balloon is then gradually inflated to enlarge the opening of the sinus. The pus and mucus is flushed out from the sinus, by spraying saline in it. The balloon sinuplasty system is then removed, leaving the sinus clean and open. The whole procedure takes about an hour and the patient can usually go home the same day. Some doctor’s may also perform the procedure under local anesthesia. Results vary among individuals and symptom improvement can last up to two years.
The advantages of balloon sinuplasty procedure over the traditional sinus surgery are as follows:
- Safe and effective and can even be used to treat chronic maxillary sinusitis in children.
- Enlarges the opening of the sinuses without any cutting or removal of bone or soft tissue, preserving the normal anatomy and mucosal tissue of the sinus.
- Less invasive meaning minimal bleeding, less pre-operative pain and faster recovery. Most patients return to normal activities and work within 24 to 48 hours.
- Can be used along with other sinus treatment options.
- Does not limit future sinus treatment options.
Balloon Sinuplasty is relatively safe but may be associated with a small risk of infection, mucosal and tissue trauma and optic injury. Consult your doctor to check whether you are a candidate for balloon sinuplasty and how you can benefit from it.