Balloon Sinuplasty: Relief from Chronic Sinusitis

Balloon sinuplasty is a procedure performed on patients who have chronic (persistent) sinusitis or inflammation of the sinuses. (Sinuses are cavities, or air pockets, in various bones around the nose.) The sinus opening is vital for the drainage of mucus (secretions) in the nasal passages. Once blocked, this will cause fluid to build up in the sinus and may lead to infection and then swelling. Blockage may also be due to an abnormal growth in the sinus passages or bone structure within the sinus opening. Symptoms include congestion (feeling of fullness) and difficulty breathing through the nose, facial pain and pressure, headache, green or yellow mucus discharge, fatigue, loss of the senses of smell and taste, ear and teeth pain, bad breath and sore throat.

When sinusitis does not respond to medication, balloon sinuplasty is indicated by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, or otolaryngologist. Using a small, flexible guide wire, a balloon catheter (a tube with an inflatable part) is inserted into the sinus cavity via the nose. The balloon widens and reshapes the narrowed passageway, restoring normal drainage function.

Patients usually can go home after a few hours following the operation. Because there is minimal tissue trauma, there is little bleeding and postoperative pain. Patients can return to normal activities quickly.

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