Endoscopic sinus surgery

What is sinusitis?

The sinuses are air-filled spaces at the front of the skull that are connected to the inside of your nose (see figure 1). Sinusitis is an infection of the mucous membrane that lines the sinuses. It causes symptoms of pain, a blocked nose, discharge, reduced sense of smell and the feeling of mucus at the back of your nose or throat.

Endoscopic sinus surgery 

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim of surgery is to widen the passage between the sinus and your nose so that mucus does not become trapped anymore. This should prevent the sinusitis from coming back.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Antibiotics may help to clear the infection. If your sinusitis is caused by an allergy, you may be able to prevent sinusitis by avoiding the ‘triggers’ of your allergy or by taking medication, such as antihistamines. If you use a nasal steroid spray for a long time, you can reduce the size of polyps.

What does the operation involve?

Endoscopic sinus surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but a local anaesthetic can be used. The operation usually takes between one and two hours.

The operation is performed through your nose and does not result in any facial scars or change to the outside shape of your nose.

Your surgeon will use an endoscope to examine your nasal passages. They will use special instruments to remove any polyps and to widen the passages from your sinuses into your nose.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots

Specific complications of this operation:

  • Infection
  • Damage to the bone around your eye
  • Blindness
  • Leak of fluid from the brain

How soon will I recover?

The packing in your nose will usually be removed the day after your operation. You should be able to go home later on that day.

You should not blow your nose for at least a week after the operation. Your nose will continue to feel blocked for quite a few weeks.

Your surgeon will prescribe a nasal spray or drops for you to use and you may be given a course of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Endoscopic sinus surgery summary

Sinusitis is not serious but it can cause unpleasant symptoms. If medication does not help, endoscopic sinus surgery should prevent the sinusitis from coming back.

How to pay for your procedure

Endoscopic sinus surgery costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.


Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS)

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Copyright © 2008 EIDO Healthcare Limited   The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare.

The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited.

You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

What to do next

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