By Hao “Mimi” Tran, M.D., F.A.C.S. 

Sinusitis affects more than 37 million people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the United States. In Orlando, balloon sinuplasty is one of the newest, least invasive alternatives to traditional sinus surgery to open blocked sinus passageways and restore normal sinus drainage for patients suffering from chronic sinusitis. The procedure is minimally invasive and does not require the removal or cutting of nasal bone or tissue, which results in faster recovery times and less discomfort for patients when compared to traditional sinus surgery.

If a patient qualifies medically for the procedure it is recommended only after conservative treatment methods such as saline sprays, nasal steroid sprays and medication therapy have failed. It is safe for children and adults with chronic sinusitis symptoms.

Common symptoms of chronic sinusitis include but are not limited to recurring:

  • Facial pain
  • Facial pressure
  • Sinus infections
  • Sinus headaches
  • Drainage of yellow discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat
  • Pain and/or swelling around the eyes
  • Halitosis
  • Nausea

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to those found with acute sinusitis except they last longer and will often cause more significant levels of fatigue in sufferers.

The Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure

The FDA-approved balloon sinuplasty procedure utilizes a small, flexible balloon to open and restructure nasal passageways, which may alleviate sinus headaches, fatigue and congestion for affected individuals.

The balloon catheter is gently inserted into the problem region and inflated, widening the walls of the sinus passageway without requiring the removal of bone and tissue, as is the case with traditional sinus surgery techniques. In fact, the procedure is very similar in technique to the way a cardiologist would open blocked arteries during balloon angioplasty.

Once inserted, the balloon is inflated to expand the sinus opening. Saline is then sprayed into the inflamed sinus to flush out the pus and mucus. From there the system is removed, leaving the restructured and widened walls of the sinus passageway intact. The integrity of the sinus lining is also maintained as a result of the balloon catheter expanding.

By preserving the normal anatomy of the sinuses and mucosal tissue, otolaryngologists trained to perform balloon sinuplasty are able to complete the minimally invasive procedure in-office under local anesthesia in about 45 minutes in most circumstances.

To date, according to the official balloon sinuplasty website hosted by Acclarent, more than 250,000 patients suffering from chronic sinusitis have been treated using the procedure. Of those patients, more than 95 percent of them say they would have it again if it were ever needed to relieve recurring symptoms.

Balloon Sinuplasty Patient Testimonial

Balloon Sinuplasty Results

Balloon sinuplasty has proven effective for a majority of patients in Central Florida. In fact, most patients report clinically meaningful improvement in sinus symptoms and quality of life through two years following surgery, according to a long-term outcome analysis of balloon sinusotomy. Because there is no nasal bone or tissue removal, patients also report less discomfort, a faster recovery time and minimal bleeding. Some patients of mine have also reported feeling relief after just several hours following the procedure.

Although recovery time varies for each patient, it is very minimal and patients are often back to work and normal activity within two days of the procedure.

The extent to which a patient’s sinuses remain open depends on the severity of their sinus disease and multiple other factors. It is unlikely that a patient would require repeat procedures, however that option remains open if persistent symptoms return. A clinical study of 1,036 patients at multiple institutions reported that sinus symptoms improved in 95 percent of patients at an average follow-up period of nine months, according the to Acclarent’s website. In another study, symptom improvement was reported up to two years following the procedure.

A common question heard from patients at my practice relates to whether or not balloon sinuplasty will limit sinusitis treatment options in the future. The short answer is no it will not. Surgeons may use balloon sinuplasty with other medical therapies and it doesn’t limit future treatment options for patients.

The procedure is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.

Additional Resources

About the Doctor

Dr. Hao “Mimi” Tran is a board certified otolayngologist specializing in Head and Neck Surgery, Endoscopic Sinus Surgery, Voice Disorders and Allergy Treatment at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates, headquartered in Winter Park, Fla. Throughout her career, she has been involved in various research projects with numerous publications and presentations around the country to her credit. She currently serves as an associate clinical professor for the Florida State University College of Medicine and as a clinical mentor for the Florida Hospital Family Practice Residency.