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Endoscopic Sinus Exam for Sinusitis

    An endoscopic sinus exam allows the doctor to see all the structures inside the nose and the sinuses.

    Before inserting the endoscope, the passages inside the nose are opened up with a decongestant medicine and numbed with an anesthetic. The endoscope is guided up through a nostril and into the sinus opening, but it is not able to be inserted into the sinus itself.

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    The test is usually done by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist (also called an otolaryngologist or otorhinolaryngologist). It can be done in the doctor's office and takes 5 to 10 minutes.

    Why It Is Done

    An endoscopic sinus exam may be used if:

    • The diagnosis of sinusitis is still in doubt after performing X-rays or a CT scan.
    • Initial medical treatment of sinusitis has failed to solve the problem.
    • Surgery is being considered. An endoscopic sinus exam may be used to evaluate the structures inside the nose where the surgery will be performed.


    Findings of an endoscopic sinus exam may include the following.


    Bones and soft tissues appear normal.


    • Swelling and redness (inflammation) of the mucous membrane are present.
    • The nasal passages are blocked or have an abnormal size or shape.
    • Discolored, thick mucus is draining from a sinus opening.
    • Growths (nasal polyps) or foreign bodies inside the nose are seen.
    • The partition between the nasal cavities is crooked (deviated nasal septum) and is causing obstruction.

    What To Think About

    An endoscopic sinus exam is the best method of examining the nasal passages and sinus openings because it can detect small growths in the nose (polyps) and other problems that may be missed by routine examination.

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

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

    Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

      This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

      WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

      Last Updated: November 14, 2014
      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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