The pain and the pressure of a sinus infection are miserable. When you have chronic sinusitis, the discomfort can interfere with your enjoyment of life. You may have difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, or a sore throat. When your sinuses are blocked and inflamed, you may even feel the pain in your teeth.
You may have already tried many of the available medications to treat your blocked sinuses. When antibiotics, steroid sprays, and decongestants don’t fix the problems, your doctor may recommend sinus surgery to open the inflamed area.
With traditional sinus surgery, your surgeon would have used an instrument to examine the sinuses and then removes bone and tissue from the sinuses to enlarge the affected area. This procedure was quite painful. It would also cause bleeding and scarring. Often multiple surgeries were needed to clear the sinuses, and additional surgery may have been necessary to remove any scar tissue. Sinus surgery was always performed in the hospital and required an overnight stay.
If you have been considering sinus surgery to treat your chronic sinusitis, you may want to ask your doctor about an alternative. There are three things you should know about balloon sinus dilation.
1- A Less Invasive Alternative
Balloon sinus dilation (BSD) was first introduced in 2005 and is a less invasive alternative to sinus surgery. When BSD was first introduced, it was only performed in a hospital setting. In 2011 BSD was approved to be performed in your doctor’s office. With balloon sinus dilation, there is no bone removed and no cutting of the sinus cavity.
The surgeon inserts a small balloon catheter into the inflamed sinus cavity and then inflates the balloon with saline to widen the sinus opening. Saline is them sprayed into the sinus to flush out any infection or mucus. When the instrument is removed, the sinuses are open. The bone is restructured by the opening of the balloon, but no cutting is necessary to restore the passageway.
This balloon procedure is very similar to an angioplasty used to open clogged arteries. It has been performed for many years but did not gain popularity until it was approved as an office procedure.
2- A Low-Risk Procedure
Unlike traditional sinus surgery, there is minimal risk involved in balloon sinus dilation. No medical procedure can guarantee complete safety, but there is usually little to no bleeding and no bruising or facial swelling with BSD. Most people who have this procedure done can resume their normal activities within 24 hours.
You may experience some discomfort during the procedure, but most who have BSD rate the pain level quite low. Most often BSD is rated as a two out of ten on the pain scale.
3- A High Success Rate
In a study of more than 1000 patients who had balloon sinus dilation, 96 percent had their symptoms improve after the procedure. 76 percent had not had a sinus infection by their eight-month follow-up examination. A second study showed the improvements were maintained two years after the procedure.
If you have had three sinus infections lasting ten days or more in the past 12 months, or sinusitis symptoms that have lasted 12 weeks or more, you may be a candidate for balloon sinus dilation.
Balloon Sinus Dilation is not the right course of treatment for everyone. If you have polyps, excessive fungal infections or a connective tissue disorder, this treatment is not going to be your best option.
Your doctor may want to perform a CT scan to see if you are a candidate for BSD. He can advise you on your best treatment options and can offer the solutions that are appropriate for your chronic sinusitis.