Sinusitis or an infection of the sinus is a condition that results in the inflammation of the air cavities in the nose. The condition may be caused by an allergy or irritation of the airways in the nasal cavity. Some symptoms of the problem include headaches, tenderness in the facial tissues, pain in the sinuses, stuffiness in the nose, fever, sore throat, and swelling in the face.
The condition does not always call for surgery. In fact, you will have to visit your doctor first for diagnosis and treatment. If the medications don’t work after three months, the doctor may diagnose it as chronic sinusitis, and you will have to go for a CT scan and may eventually need sinus surgery. Surgery is recommended when you have cancer of the sinus, a fungal infection and a problem that has spread to the bone. Other reasons for sinus surgery include:
- Polyps in the sinus and nose
- Structural problems in the nose
- HIV, in addition to the sinus infection
What Types of Surgery Can You Get for Sinusitis?
1. Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Endoscopic sinus surgery is an advanced procedure that does not involve any incisions on the face or mouth. It is performed through the nose and makes use of an instrument known as a nasal endoscope. This small telescope is placed in the nostrils so that the surgeon can see the insides of your sinuses. Usually, the endoscope is fitted with a video camera at its end.
The surgeon will then use specialized equipment to eliminate the causes of the blockage. These could be polyps, scar tissues, or other natural blockage elements. The doctor will also straighten the septum and alter the size of the turbinates if necessary.
Advances in technology have made this procedure almost painless. It is also carried out with minimal nasal packing and patients recover in a shorter period. Many people are actually able to go home on the same day.
Before the surgery, your doctor will prescribe certain medications to reduce inflammation. It is important to start taking these drugs at the stated time until you go in for the procedure as they will make the process a lot smoother. The surgeon will also require that you get cleared for the procedure by your primary care doctor. If the doctor deems you healthy enough for surgery, the surgeon will proceed with the procedure. You will also need to avoid smoking for at least a month before the procedure, and another month after the surgery. This is because smoking will lead to the failure of the surgery and can make it harder to heal.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is the most common solution to chronic sinusitis. However, it is not ideal for people suffering from aggressive fungal infections or tumors of the sinus. These may have to be treated through external surgeries.
What are the Risks of Endoscopic Sinus Surgery?
Although the procedure is significantly advanced, it still has some risks. These include:
- Bleeding– Normally, you should expect little bleeding during the surgery. This is never a serious issue as it subsides after some time. In rare cases, patients experience excessive bleeding, and the surgeon will simply terminate the procedure. In case you bleed after the procedure, the surgeon will place nasal packing to stop the bleeding.
- Infections– In case you develop an infection after the surgery, you will need to take strong antibiotics. Infections are rare since the patient gets antibiotics during the procedure.
- Blurry vision– Since the sinuses are very close to the eyes, the procedure can cause changes in your vision. Some people even end up with double vision. This may be temporary or permanent.
Some patients will also lose their sense of smell and may experience cerebrospinal leaks.
2. Balloon sinuplasty
This procedure does not involve the cutting or removal of any bones or tissues. Instead, the surgeon will use small and flexible balloon catheters to unblock the sinuses. These catheters will be inflated in the sinuses so that they expand the passageways and saline will be sprayed to drain the mucus that typically accumulates in patients with chronic sinusitis.
With this procedure, patients will be back to their normal routine within two days. It is possible for some patients to experience longer recovery periods, but this is the average time taken.
What are the Risks of Balloon Sinuplasty?
Here are some risks of this surgery:
- You might end up losing your sense of smell
- It might affect the appearance of your nose. This might be because of the swelling.
- It might affect the connection between the nose and the brain and lead to some leakage of the brain fluid
- Poor aftercare can lead to the development of an infection
3. Open sinus surgery
This is a traditional treatment method. Your surgeon will make incisions directly over the sinus so they can open and remove the diseased tissues. This method is highly effective in treating aggressive cases of sinusitis. That being said, the procedure may result in disfigurement and scarring on the cheeks. For these reasons, the procedure is often treated as a final resort. The other less invasive procedures have greatly reduced the instances of traditional sinus surgery.
Open sinus surgery is ideal if the patient suffers from an infection of the facial bone, a brain abscess or if they have a mucocele in the frontal sinus. Risks of this procedure include excessive bleeding, blindness or partial loss of sight, inflammation of the brain membrane, and even death. Recovery takes much longer than with the other two sinus surgery options.
Sinusitis is primarily treated using medications. However, the body may fail to respond to these drugs, and you may be forced to go for a surgery. In such a case, you will have the option of choosing traditional sinus surgery, endoscopic sinus surgery, or balloon sinuplasty. Traditional sinus surgery is the most dangerous as it involves the making of incisions in the facial tissues. The other two options are generally more preferable and involve much less recovery time. For your sinus surgery needs, you can contact Ran Y. Rubinstein, a board-certified sinus surgeon located in Hudson Valley area of New York.