Chronic sinusitis can affect one’s quality of life in many ways. Some of the symptoms of chronic sinusitis can include nasal obstruction, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, decreased sense of smell, facial pressure, headaches, fatigue, pain in the upper teeth, and pain behind the eyes just to name a few. Once a thorough history and physical examination has taken place, your ENT doctor will determine what further testing you may need including nasal endoscopy (using a camera to evaluate the nasal passages) and/or CT imaging of the sinuses. Once the diagnosis of chronic sinusitis has been established, the treatment options can then be explored.
Traditional sinus surgery is a procedure performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. It requires extensive knowledge of the sinus passages and procedures can often take two to three hours depending on the extent of sinus disease. The goal of sinus surgery is to widen the natural openings of the sinuses (maxillary, frontal, ethmoid, and sphenoid) to allow improved drainage of the sinuses. Long courses of general anesthetic can lead people to feel lethargic and some patients may experience post-operative nausea and vomiting. Additionally, time is needed for the effects of general anesthesia to wear off causing people to miss work for a few days following surgery.
Recently, there have been advancements in sinus surgery to include the use of balloons to open sinuses.The use of balloons to open the sinuses cause less trauma to the surrounding tissues and saves time by requiring less tedious dissection of the sinus passages. Furthermore, there has been a shift to performing these balloon dilation procedures in the clinic. In-office balloon sinuplasty is better for patients in the following ways: local anesthesia is used so patients can recover sooner, in-office procedures are cheaper and more cost effective, some patients can feel relief almost immediately after treatment, and patients typically do not need nasal packing after the procedure.
A typical procedure in the office lasts about one hour depending on which sinuses are being treated. You will be given oral medication in the office. Your nose will then been treated with both topical and injectable anesthetics. The balloon can then be placed into each sinus and used to widen the natural openings of each sinus. After the procedure, you will need a responsible adult to drive you home.
Not all patients with chronic sinusitis are candidates for the in-office balloon procedure. There are some patients who will need more extensive sinus procedures in the operating room. There is overwhelming evidence that patients who undergo in-office balloon procedures show high rates of patient satisfaction, and experience less side effects and complications. Chronic sinusitis is a complicated disease process that often overlaps with other nasal disorders such as allergies. Your doctor can help determine if you have symptoms of chronic sinusitis and determine your treatment options.