An Inside Look at Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty, also known as balloon catheter dilation surgery, is a procedure that helps clear blocked sinuses. This procedure is still pretty new, but it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005. It’s become known as a “smart sinus” procedure due to its benefits. 

Balloon sinuplasty is usually recommended for people with chronic sinusitis after other treatments haven’t been effective in providing the patient with relief. While balloon sinuplasty is considered a type of sinus surgery, we think of it more like a sinus procedure, because there is no cutting and no removal of any bones or tissue. 

About The Surgery

A balloon sinuplasty can be done under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office or under general anesthesia in a surgical facility. After evaluation, patients can talk to their doctor about anesthesia options and choose a treatment plan that is right for them. To have the best possible results, we feel it is important to be very comfortable during the procedure. Using our Non-narcotic analgesia protocol, most patients equate the office experience to that of a dental procedure. There are also many types of balloon technology systems out there, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about your latest options. We prefer balloon devices that are coupled to CT scan navigation systems, allowing the doctor to track exactly where the balloon is going using the patient’s current CT scan images.  Currently we are loving the Medtronic NuVent EM Balloon Sinuplasty system with its electromagnetic stereotactic CT navigation for its precise and proven in-office tracking abilities.  

During the procedure, the doctor inserts a fiber optic scope with a tiny flashlight at the end into the sinus cavity so that they can magnify the sinus cavity and see what they’re doing. 

After inserting a very slim balloon catheter into the sinus passage, the balloon is then slowly inflated to expand the sinus opening.

Next, your doctor may work to flush out any built-up pus and mucus in the sinus cavity by using a saline solution. Patients often feel a decrease in pressure as this happens. While the balloon is in the sinus passage, it starts to restructure the bones around the sinuses. Once this process is complete, the doctor will remove the balloon. This leaves the sinus passage widened and free of pressure.

Recovery & Aftercare

After a balloon sinuplasty, the majority of patients can return to their regular activities within just a day or two. Some people can even drive themselves home after the procedure depending on the anesthesia protocol chosen.

Swelling, some fatigue, and congestion are all a normal part of the healing process as the sinuses eradicate infections and deeper sinus issues. These symptoms should all begin to disappear within a few days.

After a balloon sinuplasty procedure your doctor will routinely ask that you not blow your nose for a few days. You should also avoid strenuous activity that will elevate your heart rate for the first week or so. To help with any discomfort from swelling or drainage, try sleeping with your head elevated. 

Make sure to take any antibiotics that are prescribed to you for the entire length of the prescription. Always speak to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter pain medicines, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Lastly, you might be prescribed a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages after the procedure. This helps keep your sinuses lubricated, helps clear infection,  and promotes healing.