Endoscopic sinus surgery, also known as minimally invasive sinus surgery, was a true revolution in treating patients with chronic sinusitis. Developed originally in Austria, it was brought to the United States by Dr. David Kennedy, a Professor at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1985. Our medical director, Dr. Nachlas, had the privilege of being the Chief Resident of the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, and the Assistant Chief of Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital that year. He was one of the instructors of the original American course introducing this technique.
Prior to minimally invasive sinus surgery, chronic sinus sufferers had to undergo extensive surgery, requiring a prolonged hospital stay to recover. These surgeries were performed as inpatients, and involved removing the affected sinus(es). Because of the extensive morbidity involved with these procedures, surgical intervention was infrequently recommended.
Minimally invasive sinus surgery changed the entire paradigm of treatment. Instead of removing the diseased sinus, surgeons now just relieved the blockage of the outflow tract of the sinus. By relieving the blockage, the diseased sinus would return to its normal state. This procedure was done under a light anesthesia, required minimal recovery, and truly revolutionized the treatment for sinus sufferers.
Although the balloon sinuplasty has replaced endoscopic sinus surgery in many cases, often the procedures are combined to achieve maximal relief. These combined procedures can be performed in the office setting with minimal downtime.