One of the hottest topics in sinus treatment today is the new balloon catheter. This new instrument is a small flexible catheter that holds a very tough and powerful balloon on the tip. The catheter is placed into the narrowed sinus opening using real time x-rays. Once in position, the balloon is inflated and forcefully stretches the sinus opening.
Steps in using these devices are:
To gain initial sinus access, the Sinus Guide Catheter is introduced into the target sinus under endoscopic visualization. A flexible Sinus Guidewire is introduced through the Sinus Guide Catheter and gently advanced into the target sinus under fluoroscopic guidance.
The Sinus Balloon Catheter tracks smoothly over the Sinus Guidewire and positioned across the blocked ostium. Using fluoroscopy, the position of the Sinus Balloon Catheter is confirmed. It is gradually inflated to gently restructure the blocked ostium.
The Balloon SinuplastyTM system is removed, leaving the ostium open and allowing the return of normal sinus drainage and function. There is little to no disruption to mucosal lining.
I have attended the official training course that is given by Acclarent, the company that makes the balloons and ancillary devices. This device is very new, and its exact role in sinus surgery has not been completely determined.
I am confident that this device has an important place in the treatment of chronic sinus disease and will discuss this option with patients who I believe to be a candidate.
This instrument will not replace standard techniques in most cases. In those cases where it is a helpful tool, patients can expect less post operative discomfort and less post operative bleeding. Traditional endoscopic surgery is not a particularly painful procedure, and the recovery is fairly rapid anyway, but every little bit helps.
The primary drawbacks to using the balloon are that it adds approximately $1200 dollars to the procedure, and the long term effectiveness in a wide variety of patients is not entirely known.