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Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

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Straightening the septum

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Removing polyps

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Opening the ethmoid sinuses

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Clearing nasal passages

The sinuses are hollow areas formed by the bones of the face. Normally, a thin layer of mucus drains from the sinuses into the nose. If the drainage path is blocked, problems such as infection can result. Endoscopic sinus surgery can be done to help clear blockages. A special tool called an endoscope (scope) is used. The scope is a thin lighted tube. It is put into the nose. It lets the doctor see and operate inside the nose and sinuses. This sheet tells you more about sinus treatments that are done with the scope.

Straightening the Septum

The septum is a piece of cartilage that runs straight down the inside of the nose. It divides the nose into two sides. It helps give the nose its shape. A deviated septum is crooked instead of straight. A crooked septum can cause breathing problems. To fix a deviated septum, the doctor reshapes or trims the cartilage and bone. There is enough septum left for the nose to hold its shape. But there is more space for air to move in and out of the nose. This improves breathing.

Removing Polyps

Polyps are small growths. They can grow in both the nose and sinuses. Different methods may be used to remove them. Often, special tools remove polyps without harming nearby tissues.

Opening the Ethmoid Sinuses

The ethmoid sinuses are made up of many small air sacs that drain mucus into the nose. In some cases the drainage path is blocked. The doctor may open the thin walls of bone that separate the air sacs. This creates a passage for mucus to drain more easily.

Clearing Nasal Passages

The uncinate process is a small mound of bone and tissue in the sinuses. It forms an outlet for part of the sinuses. If this tissue is inflamed, it will block drainage of mucus. The doctor may remove the uncinate process so that mucus can drain.

Publication Source: Bhatt NJ. Endoscopic sinus surgery: new horizons. San Diego,CA: Singular Publishing Group; 1997.
Publication Source: Dolen WK, Selner JC. Endoscopy of the upper airway. In: Middleton E, Jr., Ellis EF, Yunginger JW, Reed CE, Adkinson NF, Jr., Busse WW, eds. Allergy: principles & practice. Vol 2. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1998:1017-1023.
Publication Source: Kaluskar SK. Endoscopic sinus surgery: a practical approach. New York: Springer; 1997.
Publication Source: Levine HL, Timen S. Nasopharyngeal and laryngeal endoscopy. In: Greene FL, Ponsky JL, eds. Endoscopic surgery. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 1994:19-26.
Publication Source: Stankiewicz JA, ed Advanced endoscopic sinus surgery. 1st ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1995.
Online Medical Reviewer: Emanuel, Ivor A, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Landers, Stephen A, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/19/2012
Date Last Modified: 4/5/2011
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.