Sinuplasty – For Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers – It’s that time of the year

 The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than 37 million people in the United States suffer from sinus pain.

If you are among them, you have experienced the facial pain, the nasal congestion or blockage, and unmentionable thick nasal discharges and sometimes a fever. Having experienced sinus discomfort myself for many years, I relate to staying indoors during heavy pollen times and new growths of spring. Windows and doors are kept closed at a time you want to let the fresh air in, or bring in spring flowers, but alas, the symptoms mentioned above prevent you from doing that.

Infections develop because the natural openings in the sinuses cannot normally drain fluids which become blocked. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to prevent infections, but unless the blockages are opened, the infections reoccur, causing chronic sinusitis.

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, or have persistent long-term or recurring bacterial infections in your sinuses, there is an innovative and patient-friendly fairly new procedure that is available to open the sinus passages and provide easier breathing and yes, prevent sinus headaches. The procedure is called balloon sinuplasty which uses a thin balloon similar to an angioplasty balloon. The balloon is placed into position, inflated and then deflated and removed.

A thin catheter is used to insert a balloon into the sinus opening that may be blocked by thin bone or soft tissues, such as polyps. The balloon inflates to break up the bone or polyps, and are removed. It is similar to how angioplasty opens up clogged heart arteries.

The procedure, done under general anesthesia, takes about an hour and a half and the patient goes home the same day. Most people can return to work in 24 hours. There may be some cold-like congestion for up to a week, but normally patients recover quickly. It is used in patients with chronic sinus headaches or pain or those who are fearful of sinus surgery.

The good news is that this new outpatient procedure is as revolutionary for sinuses as arthroscopic surgery was for the knees. The biggest advantages are less bleeding, a shorter recovery time and lasting long-term results.

And the best news is that the openings in sinuses generally stay open. The success rate is usually 90 to 95 percent after one procedure.

Dr. Osman, an otolaryngologist at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in South Carolina, says, “Chronic sinusitis is very common, especially in people with allergies or recurring respiratory illness. This procedure gives them a well-tolerated option for resolving the problem once and for all.”

Marie Coppola Revised April 2014