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Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Image of endoscope straightening the septum by removing cartilage
Straightening the septum

Endoscops withe a powered tool at its tip removing polyp
Removing polyps

Endoscope opening the ethmoid sinuses
Opening the ethmoid sinuses

Endoscope clearing nasal passages
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 and bone that runs straight down the inside of the nose. It divides the nose into two sides.  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 spaces, like a honeycomb. Like the other sinuses, the ethmoids have a lining that produces mucus. In some cases the drainage path is blocked. The doctor may open the thin walls of bone that separate the air spaces. This creates a passage for mucus to drain more easily.

Clearing the major outflow pathway of the sinuses

The osteomeatal complex is a term for a major outflow tract of your sinuses. Similar to a traffic jam, when this area becomes blocked, you may get symptoms in your maxillary, ethmoid, and frontal sinuses. Opening this area is a primary step in most sinus procedures.The uncinate process is a small piece 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: Up To Date. Acute Sinusitis and Rhinosinusitis in Adults: Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis
Online Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sinusitishttp://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/sinusitis/Documents/sinusitis.pdf <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri K.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/19/2014
Date Last Modified: 6/2/2014
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