Since FDA approval of balloon sinuplasty in 2005, it has evolved into one of the most common procedures performed. The reason for this is two fold. Chronic sinusitis, the disease for which it was developed, is estimated to effect 1 in 7 people in the developed world. Sufferers who fail to achieve relief of their symptoms despite medical management commonly seek alternatives. Minimally invasive sinus surgery, introduced in the United States at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1985, opened up an entire surgical specialty geared towards providing a minimal downtime highly successful procedure for sinus sufferers. Balloon Sinuplasty has taken this to a new level, now allowing those procedures to be performed in the comfort of an office setting with essentially no downtime.
Taking surgery of the nose and sinuses to a new level
The constant of surgical advancement irrespective of specialty is to develop procedures and technology that make intervention faster and quicker, the results better, and the downtime minimal.
Everything you ever wanted to know or should know about Balloon SinuplastyThis primer is developed specifically for prospective patients who have heard about in-office balloon sinuplasty and are wondering if that is something that will help them with their sinus symptoms.
Balloon sinuplasty is a culmination of the ‘minimally invasive’ approach to helping patients with chronic or recurrent sinusitis. The ‘minimally invasive’ moniker is a term used across specialties to describe an intervention which is designed to accomplish a relief of disease without the traditional surgical cutting required by previously existing techniques. This is the story of minimally invasive sinus surgery that has culminated in today’s in-office balloon sinuplasty techniques.
Definition of Sinusitis - Acute vs Chronic
Chronic sinusitis is defined as inflammation of the sinuses which lasts longer than 12 weeks. It is an affliction which is the most common chronic disease in the United States. It is distinguished from ‘acute’ sinusitis by its duration. Typically, someone with acute sinusitis describes having ‘cold’ symptoms which may gradually improve over a few days but which linger and develop over the ensuing days or weeks to an illness which involves facial pressure, headache, pain, discolored drainage, and nasal blockage. Acute sinusitis is treated with steroids and antibiotics and is usually self limiting. Surgical intervention is only required if these episodes occur four or more times a year or are particularly debilitating when they occur. Also, if a complication of acute sinusitis arises (spreading to the eye or brain, or forming an abscess), then surgical intervention is often indicated.
1. Balloon sinuplasty is a relatively quick (30 minute) in office procedure done to open blocked outflow tracks of the paranasal sinuses. It involves threading a tiny wire into the sinus and then advancing a balloon over the wire. The balloon is then inflated, deflated, and removed. This is then repeated for each involved sinus.
A frequent question posed during patient consultations for balloon sinuplasty regards the long lasting effects of the procedure. Patients will inquire how permanent is balloon sinuplasty and whether they will need to have it repeated.
Balloon sinuplasty is a relatively quick (15 to 30 minute) office procedure in which a small balloon is guided into the opening of blocked sinuses, inflated, then deflated and removed. Each affected sinus is treated, and the results have been reported in over 100,000 dilations since its inception over a decade ago.
How did balloon sinuplasty start
Balloon sinuplasty began in the early part of this century by biomedical engineers from the balloon angioplasty field. They reasoned that just as a surgeon could thread a balloon into a blocked heart artery and dilate it to increase blood flow, you could modify the technology to enable sinus surgeons to dilate the blocked outflow tracks of the paranasal sinuses.
The medical theory behind balloon sinuplasty dates back to the beginning of minimally invasive sinus surgery. Minimally invasive sinus surgery (aka functional endoscopic sinus surgery) began over three decades ago when sinus surgeons from Austria reported that long standing sinus sufferers could achieve permanent relief without having to undergo radical sinus surgery. The theory behind minimally invasive sinus surgery is that if you open the outflow tracts of the diseased sinuses, then in most cases the affected sinuses will return to normal. The efficacy of minimally invasive sinus surgery is well established, as it has been standard of care since the 1980s. Balloon Sinuplasty is an outgrowth of that. In balloon sinuplasty, the outflow tracts are still opened to relieve blockage. This procedure is unique in that it is a quick, in office procedure and patients usually return to full activity within days.
So you are getting the balloon sinuplasty. You are all scheduled, maybe a bit apprehensive about going through it, and whether it will help your congestion, relieve your obstruction, and/or stop you from getting those debilitating sinus infections and headaches. Here is the short list of things you should know as you get ready.