The sinuses are a popular breeding ground for infection. For some, the condition recurs frequently, each bout bringing pain, pressure and misery. In fact, sinusitis is the most commonly reported chronic condition in the U.S. When medications don’t do the trick, many patients turn to surgery as a solution.
Medications are frequently ineffective for long-term sufferers of sinusitis. Often, to bring permanent relief, surgery is needed to remove nasal obstructions and enlarge the sinus openings. Different procedures are available, depending on the severity of your condition. They include:
- Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). This procedure utilizes a nasal endoscope to open the natural pathways to the sinuses. It relies on a nasal endoscope (a camera mounted to a thin tube) that is inserted into the nose; the surgeon will then cut away any excess tissue. There are no scars and little swelling or pain in this procedure.
- Image guided surgery. This is a more intricate version of the FESS procedure; it relies on a 3D mapping system that uses CT scans and information on the position of various surgical instruments through the use of infrared signals. This enables the surgeon to guide instruments through the sinus passages, and is particularly useful for patients who have had previous surgeries that have changed the anatomy of their sinuses.
- Balloon sinuplasty. This minimally invasive procedure involves insertion of a balloon catheter into the sinus cavity and gently inflating it. This expands the opening of the sinus cavity, allowing for easier airflow and drainage. The balloon is then removed. This is a great alternative for those who haven’t been helped by other surgical procedures or medical treatments.
The recovery time for each procedure varies. Most patients who undergo balloon sinuplasty are able to resume normal activities in 24 hours, while those who have the other procedures are looking at a minimum of 3-5 days of recovery. While it sounds like balloon sinuplasty is the hands-down best option, each patient is unique, and some require more complex surgery to resolve their particular sinus difficulties. Talk to your doctor about which procedure is most recommended to you.