Endoscopic sinus surgery – also called endoscopy or sinoscopy – is a procedure used to remove blockages in the sinuses (the spaces filled with air in some of the bones of the skull). These blockages cause sinusitis, a condition in which the sinuses swell and become clogged, causing pain and impaired breathing.
A thin, lighted instrument called an endoscope is inserted into the nose, and the doctor looks inside through an eyepiece. Much like a telescope with a wide-angle camera lens, the endoscope beams light into different parts of the nose and sinuses, allowing the doctor to see what is causing blockages. Surgical instruments can then be used along with the endoscope to remove the blockages and improve breathing.
This surgery does not involve cutting through the skin, as it is performed entirely through the nostrils. Therefore, most people can go home the same day.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is a relatively new procedure designed to increase the amount of air flowing through the sinuses and allow mucus to drain properly out of the nose.
The procedure can:
- Relieve nasal blockages
- Relieve facial pain
- Improve breathing
- Improve the sense of smell and taste
Endoscopic sinus surgery is an effective procedure to correct:
- Deviated septum, in which the partition separating the left and right sides of the nose is crooked
- Polyps, a noncancerous water-filled swelling
- Tumors, a swelling caused by an uncontrolled growth of cells
However, it seems to be less effective for those with post-nasal drip or allergies that are caused by airborne particles which cannot be avoided, such as dust and ragweed.
Facts about endoscopic sinus surgery
- 80% to 90% of people report a considerable reduction in symptoms after endoscopic sinus surgery.
- Endoscopic sinus surgery was introduced in the 1960s but did not become widely used in the U.S. until the 1980s.
- The endoscope, which utilizes fiberoptic technology, allows doctors to see inside the sinuses without cutting the face, and makes it possible to see parts of the sinuses that were formerly difficult to reach.
- 35 million Americans – about 14% of the population – experience symptoms of sinusitis every year.
It is estimated that 1% to 2% of adults in the U.S. have lost their sense of smell and taste to a significant degree
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