As a specialist in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, Dr. Sarah Vakkalanka with Pacifica ENT in Huntington Beach and Orange County, California, is fully qualified to offer a cutting-edge treatment for sinusitis, called a balloon sinuplasty. With balloon technology, this surgical solution is less invasive than more traditional sinus surgeries, so you’ll have a shorter recovery period and a reduced risk of complications.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is swelling of your sinuses, the cavities around your nose. The condition can be painful if left untreated. When inflammation interferes with drainage of the passages connecting your sinuses and nose, mucus builds up. Sinusitis comes in two forms:
1. Acute Sinusitis
Acute Sinusitis means you have it once or twice in your lifetime. Dr. Sarah Vakkalanka will check for tenderness in the nose and face. She may examine inside your nose and can usually make a diagnosis by a physical exam. Other methods used to diagnose acute sinusitis may include:
- Allergy testing
- Imaging studies
- Nasal endoscopy
(info pulled from mayo clinic)
2. Chronic Sinusitis
A chronic condition, however, indicates a more serious underlying problem such as nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum. If you have Chronic Sinusitis or blocked sinuses, you may have post nasal drainage form your nose into the back of your throat. You may have nasal congestion, which makes it difficult to breathe through your nose. You may have difficulty smelling or tasting things. Your forehead, around the eyes, nose and cheeks maybe tender to touch. Left untreated, sinus infections can lead to:
- Bone infections
- Nerve damage
- Vision problems
Possible complications may even be life-threatening. One treatment option is a procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty.
(info pulled from mayo clinic)
What is a Balloon Sinuplasty?
Balloon Sinuplasty is an FDA-approved outpatient procedure that opens blocked sinuses to allow for proper drainage. As an outpatient procedure, it is often performed in the physician office using local anesthesia. Dr. Vakkalanka inserts a specially-designed catheter through the nostril using an endoscope to guide the movement. Once at the blocked area, the high strength latex-free plastic balloon is inflated to mechanically open the passage. The balloon remodels the bone around the sinus to allow the passage to remain open.
Balloon Sinuplasty opens blocked sinus cavities in four easy steps:
A soft, flexible guidewire is inserted into the blocked sinus.
The balloon is advanced over the guidewire and is inflated to gently expand the sinus opening.
Saline is sprayed into the infected sinus cavity to flush out pus and mucus.
The balloon is removed, leaving the sinuses open.
What are the Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty?
This is a less invasive surgical option for sinusitis, which makes it a very attractive choice for most patients. More traditional and invasive corrective surgeries require hospitalization, with Balloon Sinuplasty, patients experience the procedure in the comfort of Dr. Vakkalanka’s office rather than a hospital operating room. There is potential for significant cost savings where eligible patients may have lower out-of-pocket costs especially if the procedure is performed at a physician office. This procedure requires no incisions, lowering the risk of infection and decreasing postoperative pain. Additionally, Dr. Vakkalanka uses local anesthesia which is an option for patients who decline or are ineligible for general anesthesia. While recovery time varies with each patient, most patients who undergo the less than 60 minutes in-office procedure can return to normal activities quickly within 48 hours.
Who is a Candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty?
Dr. Vakkalanka will attempt to find another solution first, but when medication and home treatments fail, surgery is often the next option. The ideal candidate has a chronic condition or an acute one that doesn’t resolve with medication. You might suffer from headaches around your eyes and have trouble breathing because of the blockage, making surgery necessary.