If you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis and have exhausted all medical treatment options, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure known as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). This involves using an endoscope – a tube with a tiny camera attached – to guide a surgeon in removing extraneous tissue to open up the nasal passages.
Sinusitis is a common condition where the tissues that line the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. This traps fluid inside and promotes germ growth, causing an infection. The result is a variety of cold-like conditions including congestion, runny nose, facial pain and pressure, loss of smell, fever, fatigue, and dental pain. It is considered chronic when symptoms last 8 weeks or longer.
Treatment for chronic sinusitis involves medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays, oral steroids, and antibiotics. Home remedies – using a humidifier, inhaling hot steam, a warm compress – often help relieve pain and discomfort. Sometimes, these treatments aren’t enough to clear up chronic infections. In those instances, your doctor might turn to surgery.
How FESS Works
The goal of FESS is to open up the sinuses, allowing normal drainage of fluids to occur. Without proper ventilation, mucus builds up in the sinuses, leading to infection.
To determine if you are a candidate for FESS, your doctor will thoroughly examine your ears, nose and throat, looking for obstructions and other abnormalities, such as nasal polyps. If the odds of a successful surgery look promising, an appointment will be scheduled.
FESS is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. An endoscope is inserted in the nose, and the camera is used to visually inspect the sinus openings. The surgeon relies on these images in order to remove excess, obstructive tissue. The surgery is performed through the nostrils, making it a less intrusive procedure that won’t leave scars or cause facial swelling or bruising. Post-operative care includes flushing the nasal passages to keep debris from building up. In some cases, antibiotics or steroids may be prescribed in order to speed up the recovery process.
Click here to read Dr. Becker’s Chapter on the “Surgical Treatment of Sinusitis.”
Click here to read Dr. Becker’s Chapter on the “Surgery on the Septum, the Turbinates, and other ‘non-sinus’ causes of nasal blockage.”