Westlake Village, CA (PressExposure) December 19, 2009 -- Endoscopic surgery may be needed when medication treatment has failed to improve or cure chronic sinus infections. It is the preferred method for most cases of chronic sinusitis that require surgery. In this type of surgery, an endoscope is inserted into the nose, providing the doctor with an inside view of the sinuses. Surgical instruments are inserted alongside the endoscope.
This allows the doctor to remove small amounts of bone or other material blocking the sinus openings and remove growths or 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. Minor discomfort and bleeding are common during the first 2 weeks after surgery. Weekly visits to the surgeon may be necessary for about 3 weeks after the surgery to have dried blood and mucus removed.
After a surgery for chronic sinus infections, recovery also may involve packing the nose with gauze to absorb bloody drainage, taking antibiotics, using a nasal spray containing a steroid for 6 months or longer to reduce inflammation, and using saltwater washes (saline nasal lavage or irrigation) to keep the nasal passages moist. It is also important to avoid blowing the nose, exercising strenuously, and bending forward for a few days.
How Well It Works
Endoscopic surgery improves symptoms in about 90% of people with chronic sinus infections. However, surgery does not always completely eliminate sinusitis. Some people may need a second operation. Surgery is most successful when used along with medication and home treatment to prevent future chronic sinus infections. A second surgery and future chronic sinus infections may be avoided if antibiotics are taken to prevent re-infection.
As with any surgery, there are always some risks involved. However, 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 less than 1% of cases. Most complications of endoscopic sinus surgery for chronic sinus infections can be managed or prevented.
Sinus surgery for chronic sinus infections may involve the use of scalpels, lasers, or small rotating burrs that scrape away tissue. Endoscopic sinus surgery does not cause as much visible scarring as traditional sinus surgery. Also, it may not cost as much as traditional surgery because there is a shorter hospital stay, if any, and a shorter recovery.