What Is a Balloon Sinuplasty?

A Balloon sinuplasty is an endoscopic sinus surgery with balloon catheters. This newer approach is an option for patients who continue to experience sinus infections and have not responded well to other medical treatments. Balloon sinuplasty dilates any or all three of the larger sinus passages. A wire catheter can be inserted into the frontal, maxillary, and sphenoid sinuses, and a small balloon is advanced over the wire. The walls inside the sinus passages are pressed open once the balloon is inflated, enlarging the sinus opening to help restore normal sinus function.

How is a Balloon Sinuplasty Performed?

The procedure begins when the doctor guides a catheter into your nostril until it reaches the opening of the sinus. With an endoscopic visualization system, your doctor will be able to see inside your sinus cavity. Once the guide catheter reaches the sinus opening, the guide wires will advance into the blocked sinus. The guide wire has a small light on its end that allows your doctor to place it accurately.

Your doctor will now place a balloon catheter over the wire and slide it into the opening of the sinus. The balloon will be inflated slowly, removing the blockages, allowing drainage to begin. The balloon will then be deflated and removed with the guide wire and catheter. The once-blocked sinus is now able to drain continuously.

Where is a Balloon Sinuplasty Performed?

This procedure is performed in a hospital or doctor’s office, and the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will determine the type of anesthesia used, and the decision is based on factors such as medical history, which sinuses are affected, and potential anesthesia complications.

How Long Does a Balloon Sinuplasty Surgery Last?

The duration of a balloon sinuplasty will vary based on the severity of the blocked sinuses. However, the average length of time is approximately one hour. This time includes anesthesia, the actual procedure, and post-anesthesia recovery. A Balloon sinuplasty is typically an out-patient procedure.

What Is the Recovery Like After a Balloon Septoplasty?

A Balloon sinuplasty is a relatively non-invasive procedure as it does not cause trauma to the nasal area. This means there is minimal recovery time involved. After 24 hours you’ll be able to return to work as well as any recreational activities you enjoyed before your surgery.

Will a Balloon Sinuplasty Cure My Sinus Problem?

If you underwent balloon sinuplasty and received less than desirable results, you may need to choose another type of treatment. A balloon sinuplasty is a limited procedure and will not prevent you from having a more comprehensive surgery in the future.

What Are the Advantages of a Balloon Sinuplasty?

The minimal invasiveness of the balloon sinuplasty is its key benefit. Unlike other treatments, the sinus tissue is only widened; not removed. By keeping the sinus tissue intact, there is less trauma to the sinus area which reduces post-operative pain, scarring, bleeding, and recovery time. Because the balloon sinuplasty procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office, under local or general anesthesia, with a 24-hour recovery period, this operation is a good option for patients with minimal sinus issues. It is also an excellent alternative for patients that are averse to more invasive surgery, or who could have complications with general anesthesia.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Balloon Sinuplasty?

Balloon sinuplasty has several disadvantages that you and your doctor should discuss before moving forward. Nasal polyps that block the sinuses and cause breathing difficulties can make balloon sinuplasty an ineffective option. Also, of the four potential sinus blockages, this procedure cannot adequately facilitate drainage in the ethmoid sinus. The catheter and guide wire cannot easily reach the openings to this sinus passage.

A Balloon sinuplasty is not the most effective treatment of sinus issues, specifically chronic sinusitis. While FESS, functional endoscopic sinus surgery, can solve multiple sinus problems, balloon sinuplasty can only dilate the sinus.

Some medical professionals believe that balloon sinuplasty is unable to solve the underlying causes of a sinus infection, as it only addresses drainage.
The cost of a balloon sinuplasty tends to be more expensive despite it being minimally invasive. The use of disposable equipment has a direct impact on the cost to the patient.

As a relatively new procedure, the long-term efficacy is not yet known for the balloon sinuplasty procedure. Only time will tell if balloon sinuplasty can be a permanently viable option for patients that suffer from sinusitis.

Are There Any Risks Associated with a Balloon Sinuplasty?

Because a balloon sinuplasty requires no cutting or removal of any tissue inside the nasal area, it is a very safe procedure. It also has a low complication rate. However, as with any operation, discuss any potential risks with your doctor.