Most frequent questions and answers
The diagnosis of your problem is made by taking a careful history of your symptoms, as well as a physical examination, and possibly additional tests such as nasal endoscopy or CT scan.
Procedures to enlarge the sinus openings are about 80% successful in substantially improving symptoms due to chronic or recurrent sinusitis. You may not be cured completely, but the chances are excellent that you will have very significant relief.
Dr. Scheurer takes great care to thoroughly numb the inside of the nose before performing sinuplasty with the balloon in the office. The numbing part of the procedure takes approximately 30-45 minutes, and the dilation part about 15 minutes. It is extremely rare to have to stop a procedure due to patient discomfort. Generally, over-the-counter pain medicine is all that is required for 1-2 days after the procedure. Many patients have no pain at all.
Balloon sinuplasty is much safer than traditional sinus surgery, with a major complication rate substantially less than 1%. This is mainly because nothing is removed from the nose during balloon sinus dilation. In traditional surgery, cutting instruments are used to enlarge sinus openings. Whenever something is cut/removed from the body during surgery, there is a risk of removing tissue that the surgeon didn’t mean to remove. Hence the advantages of dilating a sinus passage rather than cutting it open.
No. If you have nasal polyps, which are a type of swelling of the nasal lining, or if you have chronic sinusitis of the small sinuses in between the eyes, you may either not be a candidate for balloon sinuplasty, or you may need additional procedures beyond balloon sinuplasty to appropriately treat your problem. Some patients may require a straightening of the nasal septum if it is significantly deviated inside of the nose.
Normal activities including work can usually be resumed within 24 hours. Strenuous activities such as running may require several days. Please see the attachment under the “patient handouts” tab for further information.
Yes. General anesthesia or anesthesia with intravenous drugs that “knock you out” is possible with balloon sinuplasty, but this may involve substantial additional expense. The insurance companies are anxious to cut costs and often will not pay for both the balloon device (which is single-use and very expensive) and the cost of an operating room and anesthesiologist. Dr. Scheurer provides oral sedation as necessary for the office balloon procedure. This generally calms the nerves for even the most anxious patient. The procedure itself involves virtually no pain.
Almost every major California PPO insurance company, including Medicare, covers the cost of balloon sinuplasty in the office. The only exception is Blue Shield of California. If you need a sinus procedure, Blue Shield only covers the old procedure in the operating room under general anesthesia with cutting instruments. Blue Shield regards balloon sinuplasty as an “experimental” treatment. Hopefully this will change in the future.