What is a Balloon Sinuplasty?

You may have heard or read about the term "balloon sinuplasty" before, particularly if you have had ongoing trouble with your sinuses. A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure where a balloon catheter dilates the sinus so it can function better. This technique is often done in-office and involves no cutting of bone or nasal tissue. Recovery usually takes a few days.

Who Can Benefit from a Balloon Sinuplasty?

How do you know if you qualify for a balloon sinuplasty and if this procedure is right for you? There are two main conditions that will indicate if you will benefit from having a balloon sinuplasty performed.

These two primary indications are:

  • Recurrent acute sinusitis. This means you have had four or more sinus infections per year, treated with antibiotics, where your symptoms get better but keep recurring.
  • Chronic sinusitis. These are extended symptoms of sinusitis that fail to improve after three months, even with up to 4 weeks of antibiotics, nasal steroids and sinus rinses. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis include decreased smell, facial pressure, and documented inflammation on a CT scan.

Who is Qualified to Perform a Balloon Sinuplasty in Richmond?

General practitioners or primary care physicians do not perform this procedure. The only doctors who can are ENT doctors, mostly those who frequently perform sinus procedures in the operating room and the office. With this in mind, it's important to find the right doctor for the procedure.

If your sinuses have been affecting your quality of life for some time and you're not sure if you meet the criteria for a balloon sinuplasty, the best course of action is to make an appointment and establish a relationship with an ENT doctor. The doctor can help you determine if there is another issue causing your problem, such as deviated septum, allergies, or polyps.

In many cases, an ENT doctor will start with a CT scan of the sinuses to help get a "roadmap" of your condition and see which areas are affected. A balloon sinuplasty only treats three areas of the sinuses -- frontal, maxillary, and sphenoid. If your problems are not in these areas, a balloon sinuplasty will likely not be necessary.

What Questions Should You Ask?

When talking to your doctor about your sinus issues, you should ask if the procedure is one they perform frequently and are comfortable with. In most cases, a physician who does not specialize may simply refer you to a more experienced physician. It's important to your doctor that both parties are comfortable with the procedure and that you are aware of the risks associated with a balloon sinuplasty.

If you've been experiencing ongoing problems with your sinuses, or think a balloon sinuplasty may be a beneficial procedure for you, call Virginia ENT today to schedule an appointment.