Sinuplasty to help my sinuses
Ryan Rehl, MD, is an otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon, and ear, nose and throat specialist on staff at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. His office can be reached at (602) 258-9859.
Question: This poor air quality really bothers my sinuses, but I recently heard that something called sinuplasty might help. How do I know if I’m a candidate?
Answer: The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull, which are coated with a delicate mucous-secreting lining.
When the lining becomes irritated, symptoms such as nasal congestion, post nasal drip, cough, decreased sense of smell and facial pressure arise.
The source of this irritation is often in the air we breathe. Viruses, dust, allergens, smoke and other air pollutants can all cause inflammation of sinuses, which leads to swelling of the drainage pathways and a buildup of mucous within the sinus cavities. This trapped mucous often becomes infected by bacteria, causing even worse swelling and mucous production, which may ultimately lead to a condition known as sinusitis.
Medical treatments for sinusitis such as decongestants, mucous thinners, nasal saline washes, antihistamines, antibiotics and steroids are all aimed at stopping this cycle of inflammation.
For some patients, medical treatments fail to eliminate sinusitis. When symptoms persist longer than three months, patients are diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. Those who suffer from chronic sinusitis and do not experience improvement with medical treatment may be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to explore surgical options to open blocked sinus passages.
Balloon sinuplasty is a relatively new method of opening blocked sinuses. It entails gently placing a balloon catheter through the nostril and easing it into the narrowed sinus drainage pathway. It is then inflated, thereby dilating the opening and relieving obstruction. The equipment used in this procedure is similar to that of balloon angioplasty for clogged coronary arteries of the heart.
Balloon sinuplasty reduces the need for cutting and tissue removal during sinus surgery, which results in a faster, more comfortable recovery. While most balloon sinuplasty procedures are performed in the operating room of a surgery center or hospital, some patients are candidates to have the procedure performed in a doctor’s office, without the need for general anesthesia.
However, not all chronic sinusitis sufferers are candidates for balloon sinuplasty. Patients should be carefully selected based on the type of inflammation and their specific sinus anatomy. A thorough evaluation by an ENT specialist and a sinus CT scan can help determine what treatment option is the safest and most effective solution for you.