Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

This page will provide you with information about the Endoscopic Sinus Surgery procedure. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is sinusitis?

Your sinuses are small, air-filled cavities whose purpose is generally considered to help humidify the air that we breathe. The sinuses are located at the front of your skull, between your eyes and above your upper jaw, and are connected to the inside of your nose (see figure 1). Sinusitis is an infection of the mucous membrane that lines your sinuses. Although sinusitis is not usually serious, it can cause symptoms that include pain, a block nose, mucus discharge, a reduced sense of smell and the feeling of mucus at the back of your nose or throat. The most common cause of sinusitis is an infection following a cold or flu, allergies, nasal polyps or exposure to irritants like smoke or chemicals. If medication does not help relieve the symptoms, endoscopic sinus surgery should help prevent the sinusitis from returning.

What are the advantages of surgery?

The aim of endoscopic sinus surgery is to widen the passage between the sinus and your nose in order to prevent mucus from becoming trapped. Although it cannot guarantee to improve your sense of smell, it should stop sinusitis from returning.

Can sinusitis be treated without surgery?

If your sinusitis is caused by an infection, antibiotics are often effective at treating the problem. If your sinusitis is the result of an allergy, avoiding the triggers or by taking medication such as antihistamines can prevent or alleviate your symptoms. If you are suffering from nasal polyps (small growths inside the nose that can make sinusitis symptoms worse) using a nasal steroid spray can reduce the size of polyps. If, after a course of antibiotics, your symptoms do not improve, you may be recommended for endoscopic sinus surgery.

What does endoscopic sinus surgery involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, although a local anaesthetic can also be used.Endoscopic sinus surgery is performed by inserting a flexible telescope (endoscope) into your nostrils to examine your nasal passages and drainage channels. The surgeon will then use an instrument to remove any polyps that are obstructing your sinuses and widen the passages from your sinuses into your nose. The operation usually takes between one and two hours, but does not result in any facial scars or change to the outside shape of your nose.

What are the potential complications?

All operations carry a small risk, but complications after endoscopic sinus surgery are uncommon. However, general complications include pain, bleeding from the nose, infection of the surgical site and blood clots. More specific complications include damage to the bone around the eye, or spinal fluid leak. In this last instance, any leakage is detected and repaired during the same operation. In extremely rare cases, double vision or blindness have been reported as a complication of sinus surgery.

How long will it take to heal?

Usually, you should be able to return home on the same day of your surgery. If you had non-dissolvable packing in your nose, it will need to be removed the next morning. For a few weeks after the surgery it is normal for your nose to feel blocked and you should not blow your nose for at least a week. Your surgeon will give you a nasal spray or drops for you to use. You may also be given a course of antibiotics to reduce the chances of developing an infection. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible, but you should consult your consultant beforehand.


References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.



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