People with severe sinus problem only opt for sinus surgery as a last resort or when it is the only possible way to cure the sinus problem. Generally, the procedure made in sinus surgery is mainly concerned in removing the damaged sinus tissues. Removing them can significantly improve the pathway where the mucus travels. With this, the drainage channels will no longer be crowded or congested since the sinuses will no longer be inflamed. This surgery is actually classified into four types of surgeries.
- Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) uses a fiber-optic medical instrument that is designed to fit inside the nostril reaching up to the sinuses. With this instrument, doctors can visualize what the sinus openings look like which are then used as the primary basis throughout the whole surgery. Other medical instruments are then inserted into the nostrils alongside the endoscope. These instruments are carefully manipulated so as to make the sinus openings bigger and wider. The enlarged openings will now become a better drainage system for the mucus. Along with this improvement, the inflamed tissues within the sinuses will also be healed afterwards. Light anesthesia is also administered to help the patient cope with the surgery. Since this sinus surgery is not as complex as other types of surgeries, patients are usually allowed to go home hours after the procedure.
- An Image-Guided Endoscopic Sinus Surgery closely resembles the functional endoscopic surgery. In fact, this type of surgery is actually the enhanced version of the FESS. It uses the data gathered from the patient’s sinus CT scan along with the data received from the endoscope. When these two data are compared together, doctors and surgeons can get a better perspective on the patient’s sinus problem. Structural abnormalities are also easier to recognize and this can result to a more accurate and better surgery solution.
- A Balloon Sinuplasty probably uses the simplest concept among the four types of sinus surgery. The idea behind it is to guide a deflated balloon inside the nostril of the patient with a guide wire. When the balloon has already reached the sinus opening, surgeons will now have to inflate the balloon while within the sinus so as to widen its structure. Many find this method as very ridiculous and unorthodox but this type of sinus surgery has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005. In fact, the same concept is also used on a procedure called as balloon angioplasty which is intended for the coronary arteries.
- Caldwell-Luc Sinus Surgery is usually performed to improve the maxillary sinus found underneath the cheekbones. This surgery involves an incision made just above the upper teeth which then serves as the entry point to the maxillary sinus. Surgeons would then create a new opening linking the maxillary sinus and the nose. This opening is then responsible in improving the drainage flow of the sinus. However, this surgery is now slowly replaced with the functional endoscopic surgery since many find it very impractical to create incisions and new openings just to widen the sinus openings. Nowadays, this surgery is often used to relieve the maxillary sinus from tumors instead.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, there are some risks and complications that patients should be aware of. Sinus surgery may seem simple at first but it too can cause some complications when the surgery is not done properly.
- Injury to the brain during this procedure usually comes in the form of brain fluid leakage. Some sinuses such as the frontal and sphenoid sinuses are found just underneath the thin bone that forms the floor of the skull. When the surgical procedure somehow fractures this bone, fluids may leak out from it which then flows through the nasal passageways. Although it may sound very dangerous, the surgeons can immediately fix this during the surgery itself. Brain fluid leakage will occur as soon as the bone is damage so the chances of experiencing this after the surgery procedure are very minimal. Severe brain injuries like meningitis and infections rarely occur but when they do, it may require another form of treatment which can cause the patient to be confined much longer than usual.
- Eye damage can also occur once the tissue and muscles surrounding both the eyes and sinuses are harmed. Blinding is the most severe scenario that may occur and it can be either temporary or permanent. The tear ducts might also be affected and this can cause the person to cry or tear up excessively. These eye damages are very uncommon and in fact, the percentage of eye damage occurrence is very minute.
- The loss of smell and taste can happen to a lot of patient but it only lasts for short periods of time. Prolonged cases can sometimes happen when there is a severe infection or polyps.
When to Consider Sinus Surgery
Treating sinus problems with surgery is something that should be only done when the doctor recommends it. Most types of sinus problems are easily fixed with medications and sinus rinse. Surgery is intended for those people whose sinus infection is due to the presence of fungus which can’t be cleared using antibiotics. The same is also true for those people who are diagnosed with chronic sinusitis that can’t be treated with medications. Also, doctors may suggest patients to undergo surgery when their CT scans proves that their sinuses is blocked by something unusual that is preventing the normal drainage of their sinuses.
Sinus surgery is known to be the fastest cure for sinus problem. However, it is not the safest cure around and it is actually more expensive than other sinus treatments. Surgery may sometimes not solve the sinus problem when the procedure is not properly administered. This is also something that should be worth considering since many people expect it to work at all times. Many doctors will not even consider telling their patients to undergo this procedure unless they have no other option. Surgery can sometimes become impractical especially when it is only intend for simple or mild sinus problems.