Sinusitis is a condition where the nasal sinuses or passages swell up. It is also sometimes known as sinus infection. A person with sinusitis may have a stuffy nose with a thick and discoloured nasal flow and post nasal drip with odour, feel pressure around the nose, eyes or forehead, head congestions and headaches, experience coughs and blocking in ears affecting hearing. It can also include things like nasal polyps that are swellings of the nasal lining inside the nasal passages and sinuses. The person feels extremely uneasy and weak at times.
The need for Sinusitis surgery
Sinus surgeries are mostly required to open the pathways of the sinuses and clear blockages. It may include removing of thin pieces of bones, mucous membranes, swollen or damaged tissues or tumours.
People suffering from ongoing or recurrent sinus infections, inflammations in sinuses or with abnormal growths in sinus and structure of sinus can go for surgeries. It is done with little discomfort and there are few complications.
Types of sinusitis surgeries
The most common type of sinus surgery is endoscopic sinus surgery.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)– A tool called the endoscope is used in this procedure. The endoscope is inserted into the nasal passages to reach the sinuses opening. The surgeon uses micro telescopes and surgical instruments to remove the obstructions. The surgery is done through the nostrils leaving no scars. Swelling is temporary. This is a frequently used type of surgery.
Image-guided surgery– it is recommended for severe sinusitis cases. A three-dimensional mapping system is used here with the help of CT scans and infra red signals. It guides the surgeon to difficult nasal passages to help remove blockages or outgrowths. It is a more invasive kind.
Caldwell-Luc operation– It removes growths and improve sinus drainage by creating a pathway between the nose and the cavity beneath the eye called the maxillary sinus. A cut is made in the upper jaw, above one of the second molar teeth inside the mouth to enter the sinus cavity through which the surgery is performed under local or general anaesthesia.
Recovery after operation
After sinus surgery, a sterile gauze-like material is inserted into the nasal passage to control bleeding. T he type of packing depends on the kind of surgery done. The recovery period differ from person to person and depends on age and general health. Medications are prescribed during the recovery and patients may experience mild discomfort, fatigue, nasal congestion and little bleeding after the operation.
The underlining risks
The complications that can arise during or after sinus surgeries are mostly rare. Few may experience:
- Bleeding after surgery tends to happen within 24 hours. However, it can sometimes occur later, due to the development of clot in the septum which must be removed.
- A rare complication can arise when the roof of the septum gets damaged leading to cranial complications like meningitis.
- As the sinuses are so close to the eye, damage to the eye and surrounding tissues can happen. Sometimes bleeding may occur into the eye. This happens when the thin layer of bone that separates the sinus from the eye gets damaged. This is again rare.
- Visual loss and blindness have been reported rarely.
- Damage to the eye muscles that cause eye movements leading to temporary or permanent double vision is also reported rarely.
- The tear ducts might be affected causing excessive tearing.
- Sinuses affect the resonance of a person’s voice and hence can be affected by the surgery
- Usually a person’s sense of smell improves after surgery due to open passages. However, it might worsen in certain cases.
- Sinus surgeries are usually done to reduce chances of nasal infections. However, a person can develop other infections in this area as a result of surgery.
- Nasal issues might arise due to build up of small scar tissues in the nasal passages. This will necessitate another surgery to remove it.
Alternatives to surgery
Before going into surgeries, many doctors might want to treat it with other solutions. There are a number of medications that may be prescribed to improve the situation. These other treatments may include antibiotics, nasal saline rinses or sprays, nasal decongestant sprays, nasal steroid sprays, oral steroids, allergy medications and antihistamines.
Sinusitis surgeries are not quite complicated and can be opted for if symptoms suggest so. Consultations with the doctor can help to decide.
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