Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is a minimally invasive procedure that provides long term relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms. Sinusitis refers to the inflammation of the lining of the sinus and is often preceded by a cold or allergic attack.
Sinuses are hollow air filled spaces in the skull, found between the eyes (ethmoid sinus), the forehead (frontal sinus), nose (sphenoid sinus) and cheek bones (maxillary sinus). The sinuses are lined with mucus secreting cells. The mucus traps germs and pollutants in the sinuses and drains through the sinus opening into the nasal cavity. This keeps the sinuses clean and healthy.
Inflammation of the sinus lining causes swelling which blocks the passageway and prevents mucus drainage. The mucus now accumulates and increases the pressure within the sinus leading to recurrent sinus infections.
In most cases sinusitis is an acute infection; symptoms lasting beyond 3 months is considered chronic sinusitis and can greatly impact the quality of life of the patient.
Sinus surgery is usually considered when conventional treatments have failed to provide any relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms. Traditional sinus surgery involves the removal of bone and soft tissue from the blocked sinuses to enlarge the sinus passage and restore normal sinus drainage. This surgery may lead to post-operative pain and scarring. Balloon sinuplasty is an alternative surgery preferred over other treatments because it is less invasive than traditional sinus surgery.
The symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- nasal congestion with thick, yellow or green mucus discharge
- a reduced sense of smell and taste.
Other symptoms may include ear pain, bad breath, fatigue, nausea, teeth pain, sore throat and cough.
Your doctor can usually diagnose acute sinusitis by noting your symptoms and performing a physical examination which includes examining your nasal tissues. If your symptoms are vague, your doctor may recommend imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Other diagnostic tests such as nasal and sinus cultures, nasal endoscopy and an allergy test may also be used to diagnose sinusitis. Nasal endoscopy is a procedure to examine the interior of the nose and sinus drainage areas by using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a small camera on the end.
Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is an advanced, minimally invasive, safe and effective technique to treat chronic sinusitis. A specially designed balloon catheter is employed in balloon sinuplasty. The basic steps for BSP includes the following
- The procedure is performed with the patient under general anesthesia.
- A balloon catheter, a soft flexible device, is inserted through one of the nostrils, into the inflamed sinus, using endoscopic visualization.
- The balloon is then gradually inflated to enlarge the opening of the sinus.
- The pus and mucus is flushed out with saline from the sinus.
- Finally, the balloon sinuplasty system is removed, leaving the sinus clean and open.
The whole procedure takes about an hour and the patient can usually go home the same day.
Risks of balloon sinuplasty
Balloon Sinuplasty is relatively safe but may be associated with a small risk of infection, mucosal and tissue trauma and optic injury.
Advantages of Balloon sinuplasty
The advantages of balloon sinuplasty procedure over the traditional sinus surgery are as follows:
- Safe and effective and can even be used to treat chronic maxillary sinusitis in children.
- Enlarges the opening of the sinuses without any cutting or removal of bone or soft tissue, preserving the normal anatomy and mucosal tissue of the sinus.
- Less invasive meaning minimal bleeding, less pre-operative pain and faster recovery. Most patients return to normal activities and work within 24 to 48 hours.
- Can be used along with other sinus treatment options.
- Does not limit future sinus treatment options.