What is acute and chronic sinusitis?
Acute rhinosinusitis is an infection that can complicate a common cold and is one of the most common causes for taking antibiotics in the UK. Although most cases settle with supportive treatment only, antibiotics are considered if symptoms last for more than 10 days, or in severe cases.
Complications of acute sinusitis are rare, but in cases of swelling of the eye or very severe headaches, you should seek urgent medical advice.
Surgery for acute sinusitis is rarely required, except for those with complications, but is considered in patients who get more than five episodes a year.
The aims of surgery for acute sinusitis are:
- to relieve nasal blockage or congestion, facial pain or pressure and nasal discharge
- to improve the sense of smell and taste.
Medical treatments may include nasal sprays and washes, steroid tablets and antibiotics, often at a low dose but for a prolonged period.
What is balloon sinus dilation?
Balloon sinus dilation is a minimally invasive technique that allows selected patients to have their treatment performed under local anaesthetic.
The aims of balloon sinus dilation are:
- to provide relief from uncomfortable and painful sinusitis symptoms
- to unblock sinuses without invasive surgery.
During treatment the nose is numbed using a strong anaesthetic spray, before tiny balloons are carefully directed into blocked sinus openings.
Once the correct position is confirmed, the balloon is inflated to high pressures to stretch the narrow channels.
The whole procedure takes only a few minutes, and patients should only feel slight discomfort when the balloon is inflated.
Patients are often able to return to work and normal activity more quickly as they have avoided general anaesthetic.
What is polyp removal?
Nasal polyps are found in some patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. Polyps are non-cancerous inflammatory swellings that grow from the lining of the nose. Patients with polyps most often report nasal blockage and may also report a loss of sense of smell.
The aims of polyp removal are:
- to remove abnormal tissue growths that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses
- to clear the nasal passages for easier breathing
- to restore the sense of smell, although this is not always possible.
Although polyp removal may not be a permanent cure, it is very effective in reducing symptoms of sinusitis, and helps medical treatment get to the sinuses where the problem arises, so that medical treatment can work better in the long term.
What is turbinate reduction?
The turbinates are structures on the inside wall of the nose. The inferior turbinates can block nasal airflow when they are enlarged. When medical treatments, like nasal sprays, fail to relieve the blockage, your surgeon may recommend an operation.
Typically, endoscopic sinus surgery is reserved for patients with documented rhinosinusitis, based on a thorough history and a complete physical examination by our consultant rhinologists, including CT scans if appropriate.
The aims of surgery are:
- to shrink the lining of the nose
- to improve the airflow through the nose.
This is usually performed under a short anaesthetic and can be done as a day case procedure. The surgery is often carried out in conjunction with other procedures.