Alabama Nasal & Sinus Center

Alabama Nasal & Sinus Center

Balloon Sinuplasty

If you listen to talk radio or read the advertisements in newspaper and other circular publications, you have likely heard about balloon sinuplasty.  "That first breath of air through my nose.., etc.”  Balloon sinusplasty is a relatively new tool, which can be used for surgical treatment of patients with chronic sinusitis.   

Long ago, (in a galaxy far, far, away) sinus surgery was done through open techniques, where incisions were made on the face or under the lip to expose the facial bones and then the sinus cavities.  A great advance in sinus surgery came with the development of endoscopic surgical techniques.  Commonly termed functional endoscopic sinus surgery (or FESS), the endoscopic approach relies upon in-depth knowledge of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and illumination and visualization of these structures with small diameter endoscopes.

The surgical technique is to remove a limited amount of tissue and bone to re-establish the natural outflow of the native sinuses.  Standard FESS techniques were first developed in Europe and later took hold in the United States in the 1980’s.  In addition to the endoscope, the sinus surgeon has a plethora of tools available to precisely and conservatively remove tissue that is diseased to allow the sinuses to drain as they should.  In standard FESS, grasping and cutting instruments and even a microdebrider will be used to achieve the desired results.  Over the years, as technique advanced, new instruments were developed to aid the surgeons in safely and effectively performing these types of surgeries.  One such tool to arrive on the scene was the sinus balloon dilator. 

The balloon sinuplasty technology was developed in the early 2000's and derived from earlier technology for endovascular balloon instruments.  As the name implies, the balloon sinuplasty device is an inflatable instrument inserted into an affected sinus using a guide wire and either trans-illumination or x-ray technology (fluoroscopy) to confirm proper location.  The physician inserts a guide catheter through the nostril and near the sinus opening under endoscopic visualization.  A flexible guide wire is then introduced into the targeted sinus to comfirm access.  Most guide wires have a light on the tip which may produce light transmission seen through the skin to help the physician with correct placement of the guide wire.  Once access to a blocked sinus is confirmed, a balloon catheter is advanced over the guide wire and positioned in the blocked sinus opening for inflation.  The balloon is then inflated, thus widening the opening into the sinus. Dilation of the sinus opening allows the sinus to drain naturally.  The advantage of this technique is that there is no native tissue that is removed, so that recovery should be faster and pain should be less than traditional endoscopic sinus surgery.

I will discuss more in the weeks to come.  If you have any questions about sinuplasty or any other issues regarding sinus health, we are glad to answer them - I mean, this is our life!  Call 205-980-2091 to schedule an appointment.

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