Balloon sinuplasty (BSP) is most often recommended for people, including children, who still have chronic or recurrent sinusitis after other treatments have not worked. Many children do not respond well to antibiotics prescribed for their chronic sinus problems and sinus medications can affect a child's energy levels. Chronic nasal congestion has also been linked to a considerable loss of time at school, leading to poor performance and even accumulating medical expenses. If your child has been dealing with frequent sinus infections or their sinus issues have impacted their quality of life, then BSP may be a tool that could help.
Traditional sinus surgeries are established and effective, but bone and tissue are often removed, and this can result in a lengthy – and sometimes painful – recovery time. BSP can be an option for some children; it is fairly straightforward, reported complications are minimal and there's no cutting or removal of bones or tissue. BSP is a form of endoscopic surgery (minimally invasive surgery) in which a balloon is inserted into the sinuses and then expanded to clean out mucus and expand blocked openings. Another reason this procedure can be recommended for children is because BSP works with the natural openings and causes less damage and less scarring than other, more invasive surgical options. There is also less pain and less bleeding afterwards than with traditional procedures. This is because the sinus passages are widened and there is no cutting, tearing or ripping of the tissue Traditional sinus surgery requires anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to recover. With BSP children will be back to their normal activities in no time.
BSP for children is performed in a hospital or surgical center with the patient under general anesthesia. Your Valley ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist will be able to discuss with you if your child is a good candidate for BSP and the most appropriate setting for your child to have the procedure.
Balloon sinus dilation is sometimes recommended for patients who have chronic sinusitis that persists despite medications, or who have recurrent acute sinusitis multiple times each year. Your Valley ENT specialist will first rule out other possible underlying causes of the sinus problems, such as allergies and deformations of the nasal cavity. A CT scan can safely verify if children have some obstruction in their sinuses. Sometimes your specialist may recommend your child have an adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoids) at the same time as BSP.
Your ENT specialist will insert a tiny flashlight at the end of a wire into your child's sinus cavity so that they can see what they're doing. Next, they'll insert a very slim and flexible balloon catheter into the sinus passage. The balloon is then slowly inflated to expand the sinus opening. As the balloon inflates, it will gently open the child's sinus passages and help drain out any blockages.
While the balloon is in the sinus passage, it slightly restructures the bones around the sinuses. Your doctor will remove built-up pus and mucus in the sinus cavity with suction and sometimes irrigation. Once this process is complete, your doctor will remove the balloon allowing the sinus to drain normally and relieving the symptoms and the infection. The sinus passage is left widened and the sinus is free of built-up pressure. This will restore your child's normal sinus functions.
It is worth noting that neither BSP nor surgery cures sinusitis. The sinuses are not fully developed in children and your ENT specialist will evaluate whether or not this procedure is likely to help your child. How long the sinuses stay open depends on the extent of the sinus disease or other factors. Treatment with drugs may still be needed, but symptoms are significantly reduced.
Most patients return to their regular activities within a day or two after BSP. Your ENT specialist will give you instructions on what to do for your child during the week following their sinuplasty. They will be prescribed an antibiotic to discourage an infection and may be prescribed a pain reliever, although BSP rarely causes serious pain. Your child will also be prescribed a saline solution to rinse their nasal passages for three to seven days after the procedure. This will keep your child's sinuses lubricated and promote healing.
Valley ENT has 22 locations across the Phoenix, Scottsdale, East Valley, West Valley, and Tucson areas to serve you better.