DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 61-year-old male in good health except for chronic sinus infections. I’ve been told my CT scan revealed all of my sinuses are infected, and my hearing has been reduced due to the regular presence of fluid in my ears. I’ve been through several courses of antibiotics, nasal sprays, steroids and now prednisone – with little to no relief.
I’ve seen two ENT specialists. The first recommended balloon sinuplasty, and the second endoscopic sinus surgery. Both claim their procedures are minimally invasive and effective. As the recommendations are so different, I am unsure what to do. Can you please give your opinion regarding each procedure so I might make an informed decision?
DEAR READER: Balloon sinuplasty is performed on people suffering from sinusitis. It is not recommended for large nasal polyps or when appreciable scarring from prior nasal surgery is present. A small, balloon-type catheter is inserted to open the sinuses and blocked passages to allow restoration of normal sinus drainage. The technique appears safe and effective, and recovery is rapid. This is a reasonably new procedure, and physicians are still determining when it is the best treatment of choice.
Endoscopy involves inserting a tube with a camera attached into the nose to allow a physician a view of the sinuses. Surgical instruments are simultaneously inserted alongside the endoscope. The instruments allow the removal of material such as polyps or bone that may be blocking sinus openings. Endoscopy is performed when medication has failed to cure chronic sinusitis and is the preferred surgical method for most cases of chronic sinusitis. The procedure can be performed in a physician’s office, clinic or hospital setting under anesthesia. Minor bleeding and discomfort may occur for up to two weeks following the procedure.
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