Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
The following is intended to give information about endoscopic sinus surgery. For further details please speak to your consultant.
What are your sinuses?
Your sinuses are little cavities, filled with air and are situated in between your eyes, providing a link to the interior of your nose (see figure 1). They are believed to help us breathe by humidifying the oxygen that we take in through our noses and mouths. Sometimes, when we have a cold, it can feel as though our sinuses are blocked, preventing us from breathing freely.
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What is sinusitis?
Your sinuses are lined by a delicate, mucus membrane. When this membrane becomes infected, it can lead to sinusitis. Sinusitis is rarely serious but it can result in symptoms such as a blocked up nose; excessive amounts of mucus in the nose and throat; and a temporary loss of smell and taste.
Sinusitis is commonly caused by an infection after a cold or flu but it can also be caused by allergies, nasal polyps or substances that irritate the mucus membrane, such as smoke or airborne chemicals.
If medicine does not clear the symptoms, endoscopic sinus surgery may be the best method to treat sinusitis and stop it recurring.
Are there alternatives to surgery?
Yes - antibiotics are usually the first line of defence in the treatment of sinusitis, although, if your sinusitis has been caused by an allergy, antihistamines can help. Nasal polyps can respond to a nasal steroid spray which works to make them smaller in size.
However, if your symptoms do not respond sufficiently to this sort of treatment, your doctor may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery.
What happens in endoscopic sinus surgery?
Although in some circumstances a local anaesthetic may be used, it is more likely that you will be put under general anaesthetic for this procedure. This means you will be asleep throughout.
An endoscope, which looks like a long, slim and flexible microscope, will be inserted into your nostrils to take a closer look at your drainage channels and nasal passages. Your surgeon will then be able to remove any obstructions or polyps that might be blocking your sinuses and causing the problem.
Endoscopic sinus surgery tends to take between one and two hours. There will be no visible scars and no change in the shape of your nose.
What are the risks?
As with all medical procedures, there is an element of risk. However, the majority of endoscopic sinus operations are carried out with no serious problems.
General complications to be aware of might include some pain, nose bleeds, infection and clots in the blood.
Specific complications, although uncommon, could involve damage to facial bones or leaking of spinal fluid. However, if a spinal fluid leak is detected during the procedure, it can be stemmed and repaired on the spot.
In exceptionally rare circumstances, there have been reports of blindness or double vision occurring due to endoscopic sinus surgery.
How long is the recovery process?
Endoscopic sinus surgery is usually a day case procedure and you can go home when you are feeling well enough. However, if you were given packing that is non-dissolvable, then you may need it to be removed the following day.
Most people may feel that they have a blocked nose in the weeks immediately following surgery, whilst the sinuses are healing. For at least one week it is important to refrain from blowing your nose.
You will be given instructions on how best to take care of yourself during the recovery process. This will involve nasal drops or a spray and may also involve antibiotics.
Although you should be able to resume your day-to-day activities quickly, discuss the possibility of any strenuous physical exercise with your healthcare team.
Surgery can help alleviate the discomfort caused by recurrent sinusitis.
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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