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 and least invasive alternatives to traditional sinus surgery to open blocked sinus passageways and restore normal sinus drainage for patients suffering from chronic allergies and sinusitis.
“(Balloon sinuplasty) is a procedure that’s offered to our patients who have recurrent sinus infections, three to four per year, requiring antibiotics,” says Hao “Mimi” Tran, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified otolaryngologist at The Ear, Nose, Throat & Plastic Surgery Associates. “It’s also offered to patients that have chronic sinusitis, symptoms greater than three months, who haven’t responded to an extended course of antibiotic therapy.”
How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Work?
The FDA-approved procedure utilizes a small, flexible balloon to open and restructure nasal passageways which may alleviate sinus headaches, fatigue, and congestion. In fact, the procedure is very similar in technique to the way a cardiologist would open blocked arteries during balloon angioplasty.
The balloon catheter is gently inserted into the problem region and inflated, restricting and widening the walls of the sinus passageway without requiring the removal of bone and tissue, as was the case with previous sinus surgery techniques.
After opening the sinus with the balloon, Dr. Tran will clean the sinus and remove all obstructions. “I’ll typically irrigate or wash out the sinuses with saline, saltwater irrigation, and I’ll suction out all of the mucus in the sinuses. And then I’ll remove the balloon catheter leaving a nice sinus opening,” Dr. Tran explains. “The balloon produces a micro-fracturing of the actual bone of the sinus opening, leaving a long-lasting result.”
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. The procedure is either done in the office or in the operating room.
What Are the Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty?
The surgical procedure, developed by Acclarent, is a less invasive option for patients who have not found relief from prescribed antibiotics – a situation that an estimated 20% of sinusitis sufferers find themselves in – and can be performed under local anesthetic with a quick recovery.
Advantages of balloon sinuplasty over traditional sinus surgery include:
- Less discomfort
- A faster recovery time
- No removal of bone or tissue
- Minimal bleeding
“By preserving the normal anatomy of the sinuses and mucosal tissue, we are able to perform the minimally invasive procedure in our Orlando area offices under local anesthesia in about 45 minutes in most circumstances,” says Dr. Tran. “This helps patients feel better in terms of their sinus pressure, pain, congestion, and often times, fatigue.”