Thanks to Darryl for the info on this new procedure. A good article can be found on the main Georgetown University Hospital website, and is entitled, “Sinus Sufferers Breathe Sigh of Relief with New Balloon Therapy”. The article doesn’t have a named author, but it can be inferred from the tone, lack of alternative perspectives, and location, that it is written by them. Regardless, it provides information about a possible alternative to sinus surgery.
The procedure is similar to angioplasty for the heart, and is called sinusplasty. Under general anesthesia, a balloon is inserted into the blocked nasal passageway, slowly inflated, deflated, and then removed.
My first opinion is that this is still “surgery” due to the invasiveness of the procedure and due to the use of anesthesia. The authors suggest that it is probably more effective for the rear sphenoid and frontal ethmoidal sinuses. I’m not sure why. I can only infer that it is due to these sinuses location close to the brain.
The article did not indicate how long this procedure would last, and since the balloon is removed (and no flexible “stent” like object remains) it is unclear how long this will last. I can’t imagine that it could permanently change the nasal structure. It seems like a good idea to help initially drain the sinus cavity, and as mentioned in the article, it could be used in conjunction with traditional surgery.
“Because the procedure is so new, there is not a lot of patient data as of yet. While the new therapy presents a safe and effective addition to the current arsenal, Dr. Mikula is conducting research to evaluate the long-term success of balloon sinuplasty.”
I would assume (which necessitates further research to clarify) that the above quote indicates that it was approved by the proper authorities as useful and that some studies were conducted, but without much data in the article, it is impossible to say how useful it may be. It sounds more like a pilot program than a tried-and-true method. I would caution all prospective patients to fully research, that means read, any all documentation in the medical community and from Georgetown (go Hoyas!) University Hospital before going forward with the procedure. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t “sound” or “make sense” to me that it would have been useful for my maxillary sinus conundrum.