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Endoscopic Surgery for Sinusitis

Surgery Overview

In endoscopic sinus surgery, an endoscope is inserted into the nose. It lets the doctor see inside the sinuses.

Surgical tools are inserted alongside the endoscope. This allows the doctor to remove small amounts of bone or other material blocking the sinus openings. The doctor can also remove growths (polyps) of the mucous membrane. 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.

The surgery may be done in a hospital or in a doctor's office or clinic. Either local or general anesthesia may be used. The procedure takes 30 to 90 minutes.

What To Expect

Minor discomfort and bleeding are common during the first 2 weeks after surgery. You may need weekly visits to the surgeon for about 3 weeks after the surgery to have dried blood and mucus removed.

Self-care may include:

  • Packing the nose with gauze to absorb bloody drainage.
  • Taking antibiotics.
  • Using a nasal spray containing a steroid to reduce inflammation.
  • Using saltwater washes (saline nasal lavage or irrigation) to keep the nasal passages moist.
  • Avoiding activities such as blowing the nose, exercising strenuously, and bending forward for a few days.
  • Using a humidifier to keep room air moist, especially in the bedroom.

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Why It Is Done

Endoscopic surgery may be needed when medicine has failed to improve or cure chronic sinusitis. It is the preferred method of surgery for most cases of chronic sinusitis that require surgery.

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How Well It Works

Endoscopic surgery improves symptoms in most people.

But surgery doesn't always get rid of sinusitis. Some people may need a second operation.

Surgery works best when it's used along with medicine and home treatment to prevent future sinus infections. A second surgery and future sinus infections may be avoided if antibiotics are taken to prevent reinfection.

Risks

As with any surgery, there are always some risks involved. But endoscopic sinus surgery is very safe when performed by an experienced surgeon who has special training with endoscopic surgical techniques.

Minor complications (such as scar tissue attaching to nearby tissue, or bruising and swelling around the eyes) occur in a small number of people who have the surgery. Major complications (such as heavy bleeding, eye area injury, or brain injury) occur in very few people. Most complications can be managed or prevented.

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