Sinusitis is one of the most common chronic conditions in the U.S., with 37 million American adults suffering annually. Most find relief from over-the-counter or prescription medications, but some require surgery for long-term relief. Traditional endoscopic sinus surgery isn’t always effective, and can cause scar tissue and other complications. A newer, less-invasive procedure known as balloon sinuplasty may be an alternative.

How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Differ?

Patients undergoing conventional sinus surgery must contend with the cutting and excision of nasal bone and tissue. This can be painful and may lead to scarring. Even worse, the procedure isn’t always effective; some patients’ symptoms persist despite the surgery, and they require multiple operations.

Balloon sinuplasty is a safe and effective alternative for certain patients whose chronic sinusitis symptoms are the result of nasal obstruction.

The benefits of balloon sinuplasty are plentiful. This FDA-approved procedure leaves the sinus cavities intact: there is no surgical cutting or removal of bone and tissue. This translates to fewer side effects (there is less pain, bleeding, bruising and swelling), a lower risk of infection, and a shorter recovery period.

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Balloon Sinuplasty: The Procedure

The balloon sinuplasty procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The patient is given general anesthesia and a thin wire catheter with a balloon attached is inserted through the nostril. Once it reaches the blocked sinus cavity the balloon is inflated in order to enlarge the sinus opening and widen the walls of the cavity. The balloon is deflated and a saline solution is used to flush out debris. The majority of patients report open sinuses following the procedure, and an improvement in the ability to breathe normally.

Not all patients are candidates for balloon sinuplasty. To qualify, their symptoms should be due to nasal obstructions and easily accessible. Those who require additional surgery or suffer from severe cases will probably require a more traditional approach.

Your ear, nose and throat specialist will determine whether balloon sinuplasty is an appropriate choice for you.