Balloon Sinus Dilation: Three Questions to Ask

by Kelsey DeClue | Dec 09, 2016

Balloon sinus dilation one of the most important advances in the field of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (also known as ENT surgery) in recent years. This advanced procedure improves quality of life and reduces discomfort for patients who have chronic sinusitis. To receive the safest care with the best outcome possible during balloon sinus dilation, we recommend you ask your sinus surgeon these important questions.

1. Do you use in-office navigation for balloon sinus dilation?

Various FDA-approved sinus balloon devices are available.  Many of these devices will allow the surgeon to use light as confirmation for where the balloon is located.  In our office, we utilize Medtronic’s NuVent sinus balloon which uses surgical navigation to tell us where each balloon is prior to us inflating.  Medtronic, is the market leader in navigated surgical procedures for both the operating room and office setting.  Their Fusion Navigation system allows us to have the precision of the operating room in our office.  This technology uses a CT scan of the sinuses in real time during the procedure. Using the CT scan allows patients with complicated anatomy to be ballooned safely and accurately. The images help to confirm that the correct sinus opening is being dilated, as well as to protect small bones and other critical structures (ie. brain and eyes).

2. Is this the best treatment option for me? Do I really need this procedure? 

While balloon sinus dilation is great for those who need it, a patient should be sure to ask why in-office balloon is a better option than traditional sinus surgery. Some patients’ sinus problems will not be adequately treated and are not appropriate for in-office procedures (for example, if the patient has nasal polyps). Also, if the sinus CT scan shows no significant sinus disease, medical management or allergy testing and treatment may be more appropriate.

3. What certifications do you have?

Certification requires a specific number of cases be performed in the office and the outcomes documented. Maintenance of certification through the American Board of Otolaryngology requires that continuing education be pursued and written tests be performed regularly to ensure expertise. In-office balloon sinus dilation can relieve your sinus symptoms through a short procedure. Asking several specific questions can ensure you receive the most up-to-date, highest-quality therapy available.

Balloon Sinus Dilation 101

What Is Balloon Sinus Dilation? This is a noninvasive intervention to prevent chronic sinusitis. An ENT surgeon will insert a small balloon (about 6 millimeters in size) into your sinuses and inflate it. How Will It Help? When the balloon inflates, it helps to widen the sinus drainage pathways. With the sinuses more open, fluid can better drain, lowering your risk for sinus infections. How Long Does the Procedure Take? Balloon sinus dilation is an outpatient procedure that lasts about one to two hours and requires topical anesthesia. Previously, a similar intervention required a general anesthetic and many days of recovery time.

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