The sinuses are inter-connected cavities in the skull that are normally filled with air. Their walls are lined with mucus-secreting membranes. Hairs in those membranes sweep out the mucus so it can drain out of your nose. But when those membranes become inflamed or infected, they block the nasal passages, keeping the fluid from draining. This is called sinusitis, and it’s a problem we see most days at New York ENT.
Normally, sinusitis is a short-term scenario such as during cold or allergy season. In New York in October and November patients can even develop issues with dry falling leaves. This is acute sinusitis. But sometimes the condition becomes chronic, where patients have the condition virtually all the time. They will take antibiotics to combat infections that keep recurring in the blocked sinuses.
If sinusitis like this becomes severe, it may require surgery to remove pieces of bone and tissue blocking the nasal passages, allowing the sinuses to clear. This is called sinuplasty. If possible, Dr. Volpi prefers to use a method for sinuplasty that doesn’t involve any incisions and is only minimally invasive. It’s called balloon sinuplasty.
What is balloon sinuplasty?
The goal of balloon sinuplasty is to open blocked sinus passages to allow adequate airflow and drainage, without needing to remove tissue and bone. The procedure is pretty straightforward, and our board-certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Volpi, performs it in our two New York ENT office locations as an outpatient procedure.
- Step 1 — Local anesthesia is used to numb the sinus areas.
- Step 2 — A guide catheter with an endoscope is inserted into the nostril.
- Step 3 — The guide catheter reaches the sinus opening and is then advanced into the blocked sinus.
- Step 4 — Now a balloon catheter is placed onto the guide wire and is moved up to the opening of the blocked sinus.
- Step 5 — The balloon is slowly inflated, removing blockages and facilitating drainage.
- Step 6 — Saline solution is sprayed through the catheter into the inflamed sinus to flush out the pus and mucus.
- Step 7 — The catheter is removed.
The beauty of balloon sinuplasty is that the inflated balloon widens and restructures the walls of the sinus, eliminating the blockage and increasing airflow without harming the sinus in any way. Our patients from across the New York area find these procedures very tolerable, with little discomfort. Most are able to return to work the next day after their balloon sinuplasty.
How successful is balloon sinuplasty? Although a relatively new procedure, thus far results show that 92% of the sinuses that have been opened with balloon sinuplasty remained clear two years later.