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Ear, Nose, Throat & Sinus Specialists

Dr. Edgar Lueg, MD, FACS, FRCSC
Ventura's only Board-Certified Head & Neck Surgeon
with Advanced Fellowship Training

Does Balloon Sinuplasty REALLY Work? REALLY??

I am often asked skeptically, as I was this morning again by the Recovery Room Nurse taking care one of my patients who had just had his sinus openings dilated:

"Does Balloon Sinuplasty REALLY work?"

Before I give my two cents about how well it works let me explain a little bit about what the procedure itself is since it is relatively new (it first approved by the FDA in 2005).

What exactly is Balloon Sinuplasty?

Basically we use a small plastic tube (or "catheter" in medical lingo) with a balloon at the end that blows up to 7 mm wide. Within this plastic tube runs a thin flexible wire that has a tiny light bulb at the end of it. Using special endoscopes connected to a HD Television we work entirely through your nostril inside the nose. We then thread the thin lighted wire into your "natural" (the one you were born with) sinus opening. Getting the wire into your sinus opening is the trickiest part. Once the light gets into your sinus we can see the light from the tiny light bulb on your face. For example, the light would be over your left forehead if we were working on your left Frontal Sinus. Once we see the light we then push the catheter tubing over the wire so it sits right in the opening of your sinus. We then blow the balloon up with sterile salt water to the 7 mm width. This balloon becomes extremely hard (about 4 times the pressure of a car's tires) and as it opens up it gently pushes the sinus opening open. We then deflate the balloon and pull everything out of your sinus so there is nothing left inside your sinus or nose. Usually the opening relaxes back a little to about 5-6 mm but stays much larger than the 1-2 mm or less that it started out. Because the sinus openings are made of paper thin bone they do not spring back and collapse like soft tissue would.

Which is why it REALLY does work!

I had been doing sinus surgery the "conventional tissue cutting way" for many years when I first heard about Balloon Sinuplasty. Like the Recovery Room Nurse this morning I was pretty skeptical about how well it would work as well. That was up until I felt how hard the balloon inflates and how well the sinus openings actually do stay open. Several studies involving thousands of patients have now shown that your sinus openings do stay open after being dilated in this way.

Not just for months or even a few years but permanently in most cases.

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