Alabama Nasal & Sinus Center

Alabama Nasal & Sinus Center

Balloon sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty

I revisit balloon sinuplasty today because we are still getting a lot of questions about this technology and the role it plays in treatment of sino-nasal disease. 

Studies show safety and efficacy of the balloon in opening sinuses.  However, does a tool that is safe and effective mean it is necessary.  More to the point, does this tool change the indications for surgery on the sinuses?  Furthermore, is it the right tool for your case?   The role of balloon catheter dilation for treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis was recently reviewed in an article in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.  The conclusion of the authors was that current evidence supporting the role of balloon sinuplasty for treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis is incomplete.  Interestingly, the review of several studies found that sinus surgery cases done in the operating room have better quality of life outcomes and longer duration of effect than in-office sinus procedures.  This seems to make some sense in that the surgeon can be more aggressive in the operating room, with the patient under general anesthesia, than she/he can in the office setting with only topical anesthetic.   In addition, the in-office cases are likely patients with lower disease burden than those taken to the operating room and thus the magnitude of improvement is less.   There are certainly many reasons for these findings, but at least it should be a word of caution for the patient and/or surgeon hoping to cure chronic sinus disease with a simple catheter passed into the sinus while the patient is awake in the office, ready to go back to work that afternoon.

So, the answer to the question, “will the balloon help me with my complaint?” depends on determining the underlying cause of your primary symptoms.  If your nasal obstruction is due to swelling of the tissues due to a chronically obstructed sinus that is always inflamed, then the balloon may be a great tool for opening your blocked sinus.  However, if the reason you cannot breathe through your nose is that you have a deviated septum, the balloon will not help you at all.  You will benefit from a septoplasty, which is an operation whereby we straighten the dividing wall between the two sides of your nose to allow you to breathe better.  The balloon sinuplasty is exciting technology, which can be very helpful in select cases.  A thorough discussion and physical examination with a physician/surgeon whom you trust is imperative to making the right decision. 

God bless you. 

Alabama Nasal & Sinus Center 

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