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.
Fairly quick relief is achieved in most patients. As balloon sinuplasty has matured and become the standard of care for most patients suffering from chronic sinusitis not relieved by medical management, the natural question becomes - will I need to have it done again?
The answer is a definite - maybe. Sinuses are blocked for several reasons. First, there is the anatomic narrowing of the passage connecting the larger sinuses to the nose. Closure of these passages can lead to the common symptoms of chronic sinusitis - facial pain, pressure, eye pressure, headaches, recurrent infections. In addition to this narrowing, irritants, typically allergies, can cause swelling of these outflow tracts, also leading to blockage of the sinuses with the same range of symptoms. This latter etiology often responds to allergy and/or medical treatment. Such treatment is always the first route in treatment of these patients. In those who fail conservative medical therapy, balloon sinuplasty has become an excellent addition to the armamentarium.
For those with underlying allergies contributing to their chronic sinusitis condition, it is important to maintain good allergy control following the balloon sinuplasty procedure. Doing so will keep the mucosa (lining) of the nose healthy and help prevent these openings from re-closing. In patients with severe allergies, the mucosa lining may reconstruct the outflow tracts and repeat balloon sinuplasty may be indicated. Balloon sinuplasty may also be indicated in patients who have undergone endoscopic sinus surgery and whose symptoms recur following this.
It is important to remember that the balloon sinuplasty procedure is a very anatomic and simple concept. It opens blocked outflow tracts of sinuses. It does not inherently treat the underlying sinus disease except to improve the airflow to the blocked sinuses. It is amazing how important it is for symptom control to unblock the sinuses. It is equally as important, however, to address the cause of the blockage. In patients who maintain good allergy and medical treatment for their underlying sinus disease, balloon sinuplasty should offer quick and permanent relief.
Nathan E. Nachlas, MD is medical director of The Nose and Sinus Institute of Boca Raton. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale, trained in sinus surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he served as Chief Resident and Assistant Chief of Service of the Department of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery. He has been practicing in Boca Raton, Florida since 1987. For more information, please click below or call Sandy Friedman, Director of Patient Relations, at 561-939-0909.