What is balloon sinuplasty?

Our sinuses are designed to filter, warm and moisturize the air we breathe. The sinuses use mucus as part of a self-cleansing mechanism. The accumulation of inflammation within the the sinuses disrupts the proper airflow/drainage. This results in chronic sinus congestion, pain, thick drainage and fatigue.

If medical treatments with antibiotics, oral and nasal steroids are unable to alleviate the symptoms, re-opening the narrowed or blocked passages is a viable option. The classic approach for this over the last few decades has been Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) under general anesthesia. Recently, however, an in-office procedure, known as Balloon Sinuplasty, has emerged as an alternative approach. Most patients return to work within a day or two.

Re-opening the sinuses addresses the essential need for proper airflow and drainage. In some patients, an allergic component may contribute to the build up of inflammation. If a patient’s history or exam is suspicious, I usually recommend allergy testing in our office.

What’s it like?

A balloon catheter is gently inserted into the inflamed sinus and then inflated to expand the sinus opening and relieve pain and pressure. After the inflamed sinus is flushed out with saline spray, the tiny sinus balloon catheter is removed.

Patients do really well with balloon sinuplasty. We use a couple of oral medications for relaxation about an hour before arriving at the office. A combination of cotton pledgets soaked in a topical anesthetic as well as a couple of injections (similar to the dentist’s office) are all that are needed. Some patients nap, while others relax  to their favorite music playing in the background. Most people are surprised with how well they do.

Am I a good candidate?

If your symptoms are either consistent or severe enough to affect your quality of life, you may wish to be evaluated in my office. Once we’ve determined the extent of the problem and the contributing factors, we can decide together on the option that best fits your particular needs.

Paul A. Walker, MD, is a board certified Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist with Baptist ENT Specialists in Fleming Island.  He is a fellow of The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy.  His office offers innovative and comprehensive testing and treatment for allergies and chronic sinus disorders.  He specializes in minimally invasive office procedures, including balloon sinuplasty. Contact Dr. Walker’s office at 904.592.1068 or request an appointment.

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