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Information about this procedure is listed under the following headings:


Why do I need this operation?

What are the intended benefits of the surgery?

How is the surgery performed?

What are the potential risks and how great are these risks?

What am I to expect after the operation?

How long will I be off work/school?

Frequently asked Questions





Why do I need this operation?

FESS is surgery to the paranasal sinuses. This is done for chronic sinusitis where medical management has been unsuccessful.



What are the intended benefits of the surgery?

FESS is performed to reduce the symptoms of sinus disease. These include: runny nose, facial pain, nasal polyps, decreased sense of smell and nasal blockage. These symptoms are not always present together, and many combinations are possible. None of these symptoms on their own will make a diagnosis of sinusitis certain.



How is the surgery performed?

A 'telescope' is passed into the nose to allow the surgeon to see the area to be operated on. The sinuses are then 'cleared out' with specialised instruments and their drainage improved. If their are any polyps in the nose, these are removed.



What are the potential risks?

There are some very serious risks associated with sinus surgery and the decision to undergo this procedure must be made with a knowlege of all the complications. Fortunately, the chance of developing one of the serious complications is less than 1%.
1) Bleeding - bleeding from the nose can occur, but is not common.
2) Infection - this is usually treated simply with antibiotics
3) Loss of vision, periorbital haematoma (blot clot near the eye) The nasal sinuses are near the side wall of the eye and optic nerve (eye nerve) and it is possible to damage these structures during surgery - this is a rare complication.
4) Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Leak - The base of the brain and its surrounding sac, the meningies, lie near the nasal sinuses furthest back in the nose. They may be damaged during surgery, resulting in a leak of the CSF. This complication is also rare, but if it happens, packing of the area and a week in hospital is required. Another operation to repair the hole may also be indicated.



What am I to expect after the operation?

1) Packs - occasionally packs are used to control bleeding. these are removed soon after surgery.
2) There may be a pinkish discharge for a few days.
3) There is not normally a lot of pain associated with this operation. Simple analgesia will normally suffice
4) Do not blow your nose for at least ten days after the operation.



How will I be off work / school?

Two weeks off work is required. A doctor's note will be provided.



Frequently asked Questions

Will my sinusitis be cured?

Although FESS surgery is very helpful, because of the nature of the sinuses, chronic sinusitis may come back. Repeat surgery is sometimes required.


Will my polyps come back?

Polyps often come back after surgery, but medication is often prescribed to try to prevent this happening.

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Last updated: 23 October 2004