Balloon Sinuplasty: Relief for Chronic Rhinosinusitis


Balloon Sinuplasty: Relief for Chronic Rhinosinusitis

According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 11 percent of adults have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. With so many people suffering, it is no wonder that balloon sinuplasty has become a popular treatment. No invasive surgery, no time away from work and relief from the painful symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis.

Dr. Bryan Krol, an affiliated surgeon with ENT & Allergy Specialists who practices at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, explains, “Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to treat certain patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. It is appropriate for patients that have tried and failed medical therapy, have symptoms and evidence of sinusitis. This treatment often provides relief from symptoms and requires much less downtime than traditional surgery.”

Balloon sinuplasty is done by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon placing a small balloon catheter into the drainage pathway of narrow or obstructed sinuses, much like a cardiologist does for blocked coronary arteries. When the balloon is in place, it is inflated and repositions the tissue and very thin bone of the sinus cavity to create a larger opening.

Dr. Krol says, “The balloon creates microfractures of the bone around the drainage pathway, making it larger and often providing long-term relief. The larger opening can tolerate swelling to a greater degree and minimizes the chance of future sinus obstruction.”

What is Chronic Rhinosinusitis?

When you have acute or chronic rhinosinusitis, something causes the tissue in your nose, sinuses and throat to become inflamed and swollen. This can occur secondary to allergies, viral infections or other irritants. This swelling obstructs the sinus opening and prevents normal drainage. This obstruction can cause mucus to accumulate and often leads to infection.

There are several types of chronic rhinosinusitis:

  • Chronic rhinosinusitis without polyps – often preceded by allergies, viral infections, reflux, environmental irritants or other disorders. When inflammation lasts 12 weeks or longer, it is considered chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps – nasal polyps or tissue growths can block the sinuses and nasal passages.
  • Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis – an allergic reaction caused by, and propagating, a fungal infection in the sinuses.

Symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis include:

  • Nasal obstruction or congestion.
  • Pain and tenderness around eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead.
  • Headaches or facial pressure.
  • Post-nasal drip.
  • Decreased sense of smell.
  • Aching of upper teeth.
  • Coughing that worsens at night.

What are the Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty?

Dr. Krol describes the largest benefit of balloon sinuplasty as the relief of symptoms. He says, “Patients typically feel relief from symptoms soon after the procedure, and they usually can go back to their normal daily activity almost immediately.”

Potential benefits of balloon sinuplasty versus functional endoscopic sinus surgery which removes tissue and obstructions include:

  • Quicker recovery, with less pain.
  • Lower risk of complications including a lower risk of bleeding.
  • The procedure can take place in the office under local anesthesia, with sedation or under general anesthesia.
  • It does not limit future treatment options such as traditional sinus surgery.

Am I a Candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty?

If you have suffered from the symptoms above for more than 12 weeks and have failed medical therapy, you may be a candidate for balloon sinuplasty. Medical treatment is typically a combination of antibiotics, nasal steroids, antihistamines, saline rinses and decongestants.

Recurrent Acute Sinusitis

“In addition to chronic rhinosinusitis, balloon sinuplasty can help people that have recurrent acute sinusitis,” says Dr. Krol. “If a person with narrow or obstructed sinus drainage has three or more bouts of acute sinusitis per year that lasts up to four weeks, this procedure could help.”

Some patients may also need to have additional procedures to remove polyps or treat a deviated septum. Dr. Krol explains further, “Balloon sinuplasty is a treatment, not a cure. But it is a treatment that gives patients relief every year.” Dr. Krol explained the physicians of ENT and Allergy Specialists have over 10 years of experience performing balloon sinuplasty.

If you want to learn more about balloon sinuplasty or be referred to an ENT doctor at ENT & Allergy Specialists, call (859) 781-4900 for more information.