New procedure available at The Sinus Center of Southwest Florida

The millions of Americans who suffer from the pounding headaches, congestion and facial pressure of chronic sinusitis often find themselves continuously cycling through decongestants, antibiotics and nasal steroids as the infections come and go. And when the medications have failed, the usual “last resort” is endoscopic sinus surgery, which is performed in an operating room under a general anesthetic.

For many sinus sufferers, there’s a less invasive and equally effective alternative. Balloon sinuplasty, also known as balloon sinus dilation, is a safe and comfortable procedure performed in the doctor’s office that can restore proper sinus drainage in about 30 minutes.

With the patient under a local anesthetic and a mild sedative, the physician carefully guides a small, flexible balloon catheter into the blocked sinus passageway, aided by a light on the catheter and a tiny camera that sends a live picture to a video monitor. The balloon is then inflated, expanding the passage by gently reshaping the tiny eggshell bones of the sinus. The new opening stays in position, allowing normal drainage, and many patients experience immediate relief.

Because there’s no cutting, drilling or nose packing involved, most patients resume normal activity the next day. The procedure is considered more than 90 percent effective and reduces subsequent sinus infections by about 75 percent, freeing most sufferers from the endless drug cycle and significantly improving their quality of life.

A preliminary exam can determine whether a patient is a candidate for the balloon procedure. The Sinus Center of Southwest Florida, with offices in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, offers both the exam and the procedure. Drs. Howard Barrow, Daniel McKenna, Justin Casey, Robert Kopp and John Neiner are the providers.