Heimgartner S, Eckardt J, Simmen D, Briner HR, Leunig A, Caversaccio MD.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Bern, Switzerland, Freiburgstrasse, 3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Balloon sinuplasty is a tool that is used to treat selected patients with paranasal sinus pathologies.
No studies have investigated the aetiology of failed access to the frontal sinus.
The aim of our study was to specify the intraoperative technical failure rate and to analyse the aetiology of the failed access to predict potential technical difficulties before surgery.
We retrospectively analysed the charts of patients who underwent balloon sinuplasty from November 2007 to July 2010 at three different ENT-Centres.
CT-analysis of the patients with failed access was performed. Of the 104 frontal sinuses, dilation of 12 (12%) sinuses failed.
The anatomy of all failed cases revealed variations in the frontal recess (frontoethmoidal-cell, frontal-bulla-cell or agger-nasi-cell) or osteoneogenesis. In one patient, a lymphoma was overlooked during a balloon only procedure.
The lymphoma was diagnosed 6 months later with a biopsy during functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
In complex anatomical situations of the frontal recess, balloon sinuplasty may be challenging or impossible.
In these situations, it is essential to have knowledge of classical functional endoscopic sinus surgery of the frontal recess area.
The drawbacks of not including a histopathologic exam should be considered in balloon only procedures.