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Sinus Surgery for Sinusitis

In traditional sinus surgery, an opening is made into the sinus. The opening may be made from inside the mouth or through the skin of the face.

  • There are a number of possible approaches depending on the location of the infected sinus camera.gif and what the doctor prefers.
  • Working through the incision, the doctor can remove tissue that is blocking the sinus and preventing drainage.
  • More extensive procedures may involve leaving a temporary opening to help drain the infection.

Most of these procedures require admission to a hospital.

What To Expect After Surgery

Recovery from surgery may involve:

  • Packing the nose with gauze to absorb blood and other drainage. The packing may be changed several times a day or left in place for a few days.
  • Using saltwater nasal washes (saline lavage or irrigation) to keep the sinuses moist.
  • Avoiding activities such as blowing the nose, strenuous exercise, and bending forward for a few days.
  • Using a humidifier to keep room air moist, especially in the bedroom.

Why It Is Done

Traditional sinus surgery may be done if:

How Well It Works

Traditional surgery is an effective method of treating chronic sinusitis or sinusitis that has caused complications.1

Risks

Serious risks include:

  • Heavy bleeding.
  • Leakage of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
  • Inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain (meningitis).
  • Blindness.
  • Death.

What To Think About

Endoscopic surgery has become the standard type of surgery done for chronic sinusitis. But traditional surgery is still the best choice in certain cases. The type of surgery you have will depend on which sinuses are affected and how severely they are damaged.1 To learn more, see the topic Endoscopic Surgery for Sinusitis.

Surgical treatment of sinusitis should be considered only when more conservative approaches, such as home treatment and medications, have failed.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Citations

  1. Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (2005). The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: A practice parameter update. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 116(6 Suppl): S13–S47.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDonald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
Last RevisedSeptember 12, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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