Anyone who has ever had a sinus infection knows that they can be extremely painful and affect your quality of life. Headaches, facial pain and lost work hours can all be a result of chronic sinusitis. Unfortunately many people suffer from recurrent sinus infections due to adverse sinus structure that interferes with sinus drainage. When fluid gets trapped in the sinus passage it becomes a breeding ground for infection. Patients are left with taking repeated rounds of antibiotics that treat the symptoms but don’t really get to the root of the problem.
For those with chronic sinus issues, balloon sinuplasty may be a welcome answer. The procedure is modeled after the better known procedure of cardiac angioplasty in which a balloon inserted in blocked cardiac arteries to open them and increase blood flow and improve heart health. Similarly, in balloon sinuplasty a balloon is inserted in a patient’s blocked sinus passages and inflated to gently enlarge the pathways and allow more natural sinus drainage. The procedure is a viable alternative to continued antibiotic treatment and less invasive than traditional sinus surgery.
Balloon sinuplasty can be a great option for those who have chronic sinusitis and want a safe and relatively quick, long term solution. The procedure can be easily performed as an outpatient at an ENT’s office under local anesthesia in about two hours. Patients feel little to no pain during the procedure and any resulting discomfort is usually treated with over the counter pain relievers. Recovery time is only a few days at most, so patients experience little disruption to their daily lives.
Patients who have undergone balloon sinuplasty, also known as balloon sinus dilation, report improved sinus function even two years after the procedure. Such relief equates to less frequent doctor visits and improved sinus health. Like most medical procedures, balloon sinuplasty does come at a cost. Rough estimates range from $3,000 to $7,000. Most insurances do cover the method, but it is advised to check your individual policy to be certain.
While balloon sinuplasty may help you breathe easier through your nose, it will not, however, help eliminate snoring or cure allergies. It also is not a usual treatment for patients who have a deviated septum or nasal polyps. Traditional nasal surgery is the better option for some of those issues.
Although the risks are relatively low, there are a few as with any medical procedure. They include infection and rarely, optic injury due to the proximity of the sinuses to the eye. A consultation with an ENT can shed light on whether or not a patient is a candidate for balloon sinuplasty. For those who battle sinus infections regularly, it may be the perfect solution.