Good news for those suffering with sinusitis. A clinically proven, minimally invasive technique might have you breathing easier.

Good news for those suffering with sinusitis. A clinically proven, minimally invasive technique might have you breathing easier.

Sinusitis is one of the most common chronic health problems in the U.S., afflicting 37 million Americans each year.

Patients suffer from headaches, congestion and fatigue and other symptoms. This condition significantly impacts an individual’s physical, functional and emotional quality of life.

Until recently, sinusitis patients were limited to two treatment options: medical therapy such as antibiotics and steroids, or conventional sinus surgery. Medication helps as many as 80 percent of patients, but those left behind often continue to suffer rather than endure the conventional sinus surgery which requires the removal of bone and tissue to open the sinus passageways.

A new technique called balloon sinuplasty developed by Acclarent, Inc is a less invasive outpatient procedure and it’s getting good results.

During the procedure, a small, flexible balloon catheter is placed through a nostril into the blocked sinus passageway. The balloon is then inflated to restructure and open the sinus passageway, restoring normal sinus drainage and function—much the same way cardiologists open arteries with angioplasty. It is considerably less invasive and it usually does not require removing any tissue or bone. The balloon fractures the bones and spreads them apart, creating a larger opening of the sinuses and allowing for drainage.

The result is less pain, risk of infection, blood loss, bruising and swelling so patients recover faster than from conventional surgery. Many of my patients have been able to return to normal activities within 24 hours with significant improvement in their symptoms.

The technique is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and studies have shown balloon sinuplasty to be safe and effective. In fact, 96 percent of patients report some improvement. 

Of course, not everyone is a candidate for balloon sinuplasty. Those with growths in the sinuses or other conditions will not be helped with this method. Still, this is a major advancement in the treatment of sinusitis.