In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™

Examining what is fact and what is fiction

In my previous article (summer 2014), I revealed that sinusitis is one of the most common health problems prevalent in our country today affecting 37 million people and resulting in 20 million visits to physicians annually. As such, 1 in 10 Americans suffer from this debilitating condition at one time or another and 7 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sinusitis, with symptoms lasting for more than 12 weeks. Up to 1 million or more of these individuals are not appropriately treated annually and thus continue to suffer year after year. In this article, I shed light on one of the most revolutionary and minimally invasive options now available to treat patients with this condition right in the office under local anesthesia.

What is In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

This is a procedure that has gained a significant amount of press over the past 3 years as a non-invasive option for patients with chronic sinusitis. During this simple in-office procedure, a balloon is inserted into the sinus openings or ostia that are blocked and then dilated gently.  It is a great treatment option for patients with mild to moderate chronic sinusitis, recurrent sinus infections, or chronic sinus headaches. Most often this procedure can be done in the office under local anesthesia in about 30 minutes.  All of my patients return to work the following day, and there is no packing or bleeding after the procedure. Patients are amazed by the ease of this procedure.

However, patients who are not candidates for this procedure or have more advanced sinus issues will undergo Minimally Invasive Image-Guided Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (MIGSS™) as a simple outpatient procedure. As one of Los Angeles’ busiest and most experienced sinus surgeons, these procedures are routinely performed at Southern California Sinus Institute (SCSI) by me with amazing results.

Which Patient is a Candidate for In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

Patients who suffer from recurrent sinus infections throughout the year, chronic sinus headaches on a daily or weekly basis, or patients with chronic sinusitis are all great candidates for this procedure. If one can tolerate dental procedures without a problem, then they’ll often do great with this procedure. I usually see the patient in consultation in the office and assess their symptoms and physical exam findings and then perform a mini-CAT scan of the sinuses right in our center to see if they are a candidate for this revolutionary procedure.

Are There Any Side-Effects or Complications Associated with In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

The side effects from this minimally invasive procedure are extremely rare and infrequent.  Infrequent enough that I have only encountered one in the past 3 years I’ve been performing the procedure at Southern California Sinus Institute (SCSI) – a case of very mild bleeding that lasted 24 hours after the procedure. The most likely side effect is bleeding which can happen from any nose or sinus procedure, because it is such a vascular area. Very rarely patients can develop scar tissue along the area being dilated. Rare infections and headaches can also ensue after the procedure. Nonetheless, these complications occur in less than 1% of cases and the relief obtained by my patients are so significant that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

What is The Actual Day of Procedure and Recovery Like From In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

There is really no preparation for the procedure in terms of fasting or various other preparations when receiving general anesthesia. My patients usually come with someone and plan to be in the office for about 1.5 hours. During the procedure, topical numbing agents are placed in the nose and once adequately numbed up the procedure is done with the patient awake. The actual procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes and patients usually leave within 30 minutes of completion of the procedure. The recovery from this procedure is extremely easy compared to most procedures, as there is no cutting or packing involved. My patients routinely return to work 24-48 hours after the procedure and rarely complain of a mild headache for a few hours after the procedure. They usually return to a normal diet that day and back to exercising in 48 hours. They can fly or swim after 72 hours.

Which Symptoms Do Patients Gain Relief From after In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

Patients often find that within a week of the procedure they feel significantly less pressure within their sinuses, less nasal congestion, less postnasal drip and coughing, less sinus headaches, and significantly reduced sinus infections moving forward for years to come. As such, the quality of life improvement in these patients is tremendous and they are all extremely grateful to say the least.

What are the Costs Associated with In-Office Balloon Sinuplasty™?

This is a question that I often receive from patients and others alike. This procedure is covered by Medicare and all PPO insurances, except Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California at this time. The Blues have considered the procedure “experimental” and as such only cover a related procedure when done in the operating room setting. Many patients in this situation will choose to pay out of pocket for the comfort of this procedure in the office and the fees are quite reasonable.