Chronic sinusitis is one of the most common chronic health problems in the U.S., affecting 37 million Americans each year. Especially in the Upstate South Carolina region, allergies and sinus issues can cause a tremendous amount of pain and difficulty. The St. Francis Sinus Center is here to bring relief to your sinus issues, using highly advanced technology and procedures to minimize discomfort and recovery time.
Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities, hollow spaces in your cheeks and around your eyes. Sinusitis causes pressure and pain in your head and face and can significantly impact your physical, functional, and emotional quality of life. With chronic sinusitis, the infection or inflammation does not completely go away for eight weeks or more.
The same viruses that cause the common cold cause most cases of sinusitis. When the lining of the sinus cavities gets inflamed from a viral infection like a cold, it swells. This is viral sinusitis. The swelling can block the normal drainage of fluid from the sinuses into the nose and throat. If the fluid cannot drain and builds up over time, bacteria or fungi may start to grow. These bacterial or fungal infections can cause more swelling and pain. They are more likely to last longer, get worse with time, and become chronic.
Nasal allergies or other problems that block the nasal passages, like malformed bone structure or blockage by nasal cysts or polyps, also allow fluid to build up in the sinuses and can lead to sinusitis.
Symptoms of sinusitis include facial pain, pressure, headaches, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, or loss of taste or smell. If you experience recurrent sinus infections that don't seem to get better with medication, you could be a candidate for sinus surgery.
When medical therapy such as antibiotics and topical nasal steroids no longer control sinusitis symptoms, sinus surgery is an option. During sinus surgery, blocked sinus passageways are re-opened, restoring normal sinus drainage and function.
In the past, sinus surgery involved an open incision that required bone and tissue removal to open blocked sinus passageways. Now, sinus surgery can be completed completely through the nostrils, leaving no scar and making recovery much easier for the patient.
The St. Francis Sinus Center performs minimally invasive sinus surgery in several ways:
St. Francis offers an evolution in sinus surgery by using balloon sinuplasty technology. When sinus surgery is performed with this new technology, a small, flexible balloon catheter is placed through the nostril into the blocked sinus passageway. Then the balloon inflates, gently restructuring and opening the sinus passageway, to restore normal sinus drainage and function.
Balloon sinuplasty enables physicians to treat sinusitis entirely through the nostrils, and in many cases without tissue or bone removal. This may result in reduced bleeding and post-procedure discomfort for patients. In fact, many patients can return to work within a day or two.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
In endoscopic sinus surgery, small surgical instruments and a small camera are inserted into the nostrils, providing an inside view of the sinuses. During the procedure, the doctor removes small amounts of bone or other material blocking the sinus openings. In some cases, a laser is used to burn away tissue blocking the sinus opening. A small rotating burr that scrapes away tissue may also be used.
Endoscopic sinus surgery does not cause visible scarring and often is performed on an outpatient basis, resulting in a shorter recovery than traditional sinus surgery.
Stealth System Technology
St. Francis also offers computer-guided imagery called stealth system technology. With the stealth system, surgeons get a three-dimensional view inside a patient's sinus cavity and can pinpoint the exact location of surgical instruments.
This technology is most commonly used with patients who have had previous sinus surgeries. Every time sinus surgery is performed, the bony structures inside the nose change. The stealth system gives surgeons an updated picture of the patient’s sinus cavity, showing changes made from past surgeries.
If you experience chronic sinusitis, visit a Bon Secours Medical Group ENT physician to learn more about your options.