Sinus operation (functional endoscopic sinus surgery or FESS)

Spire Bristol Hospital has provided ear nose and throat treatments since it opened over 20 years ago. Sinus operations are carried out by a number of experienced surgeons with the opportunity to recover in our modern day care suite.

What is endoscopic sinus surgery?

The sinuses are hollow air-filled spaces in the skull bones. Sinuses are connected to your nose and have a similar lining called mucous membrane. This membrane produces a secretion called mucus to keep the lining moist.

Excess mucus normally drains out of the sinuses and down the back of the throat. If the sinus linings get inflamed (sinusitis) or blocked by an overgrowth (polyp), the mucus will not drain in the normal way. Symptoms like headaches and a swollen face may develop.

Endoscopic sinus surgery is generally done to improve drainage from a sinus. It is done using a tube-like telescope called an endoscope which is inserted through the nostril. The endoscope has a light and camera lens at its tip so that the surgeon can see inside the nose and sinuses. Instruments are passed down the endoscope to remove any tissue that is blocking the sinus or causing problems like chronic sinusitis.

Endoscopic sinus surgery can be performed as a day-case procedure, with no overnight stay in hospital. The operation is usually done under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. It may be possible to do the operation under local anaesthesia, which means that you will still be awake but the sinus tissues will be numb. If you are having the operation under local anaesthesia you may be offered a sedative to help you relax during the operation.

Your surgeon will explain the benefits and risks of having endoscopic sinus surgery and will also discuss the alternatives to the procedure.

About the sinus operation

Each operation is individual and will be adapted to meet your needs. Your surgeon will explain what type of operation is needed, based on a detailed examination of your nose and the appearance on a CT scan (a detailed X-ray image of the area).

Generally, once the anaesthesia has taken effect, the endoscope is placed through one of the nostrils. Pictures from the endoscope’s camera may be displayed on a screen. Instruments are inserted through the endoscope. The openings between your sinuses and your nose may be widened to help the sinuses to drain. Blockages, inflamed tissue or polyps can be removed.

At the end of the operation, packs (dressings that look like a tampon) may be put in your nose to stop any bleeding.

Endoscopic sinus surgery is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure. However, all surgery carries risks as well as benefits.

Your surgeon will be experienced at performing this type of procedure and complications are very uncommon. However, it is possible for the sinuses or surrounding tissue to be damaged.

The sinuses are separated from the eye sockets, tear ducts and the brain by thin layers of bone. If the tear duct is affected, this sometimes causes your eye to water more than it used to. If the bone near the brain is affected, there is a small risk of developing meningitis.

If any of these bony structures are damaged, they can usually be repaired during the operation.

Occasionally, complications involving the eye can permanently affect your vision.

Though endoscopic sinus surgery is usually very effective, it may not completely cure your sinus problems.

The chance of complications depends on the exact sinus operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Ask your surgeon to explain how any risks apply to you.

Is sinus surgery available on the NHS?

Sinus surgery is currently being restricted by the NHS in some areas of the UK and waiting lists are becoming significantly longer. For these reasons many people opt for private sinus surgery.

Why should I consider having my sinus surgery at a Spire hospital?

Whether you have medical insurance or are paying for your treatment yourself, with Spire Healthcare you will be seen quickly by the consultant-grade surgeon of your choice at a time that suits you. You will be treated in a premium private hospital with some of the UK's highest standards of cleanliness and infection control.

To find out more about having a sinus operation privately or to get a guide price, simply

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