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In Office Balloon Sinuplasty

Recurrent sinus infections affect at least 30 million people in the United States. The symptoms of sinus infection include facial pain or fullness, purulent, or discolored nasal drainage , cough, and nasal blockage. The majority of sinus infection are from a viral infection and are self limited and do not require antibiotics. In some instances the infection is from a bacteria primarily or from a bacterial infection that occurs after the initial viral infection. Another factor that can cause sinus infection is allergies.

Typically bacterial sinus infections are treated with antibiotics, nasal steroid sprays, and saline irrigations. Sometimes oral steroids may be used to reduce swelling to unblock sinus drainage pathways or “sinus ostia”. In the majority of cases this is effective. In some patients the sinus drainage remains blocked and the infection becomes chronic, requiring multiple courses of treatment.

When a sinus infection becomes chronic a workup is typically done to determine the severity of the infection and the cause , so treatment can be adjusted appropriately. A CT scan of the sinuses will image the internal anatomy of the sinuses and demonstrate which sinuses are more severely affected. Nasal endoscopy, using a small telescope to examine the inside of the nose, allows the physician to obtain a culture of the bacteria causing the infection. Also, other anatomic abnormalities such as nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum can be identified.

Also allergy skin testing can be done if inhalant allergies are suspected

When conservative treatment fails and the work up indicates that a blocked sinus ostia is the cause of the chronic infection then ballon sinuplasty may be the appropriate treatment. With this treatment option a small 6mm nasal balloon is used to remodel the blocked sinus openings. This can be done in the office under local anesthesia. Studies have shown that outcomes are the same as invasive sinus surgery with much less healing time. Typically patients are back to work the day after the procedure. Total healing is typically over in 1 week. If allergies were identified as a cause of the infection in the workup then allergy treatment continues after the procedure to prevent recurrence. Insurance typically covers the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure however a copay may apply.

Ronald Van Tuyl, MD