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What is a Sinusotomy?

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/14/2009

A patient who is about to undergo a sinusotomy has a responsibility to learn what the procedure entails. Patients about to go through this procedure should read below so that they will know what to expect and how to prepare.

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    A sinusotomy can be performed in two different ways. The procedure done on the frontal sinuses is usually done by making an incision along or above the eyebrow to allow access to the frontal sinuses. Then, the instrument is inserted into the incision and sinus cavity in order to attempt to remove and obstructions, such as dead skin or bone tissue that may be causing chronic sinus issues.

    In the case of a maxillary sinus issue, there is an incision made that may be made specifically in order to increase the ability to breathe thought the sinuses or it may be an incision made in order to remove dead skin and bone tissue that is blocking the sinuses.

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    Causes and Risks

    The risks and discomfort associated with a sinusotomy are quite minimal as compared to a traditional open surgery. There is always a chance of infection with any type of surgery and this one is no different. There is a benefit to this type of procedure in that the patient tends to be required to have frequent follow up visits so that the doctor can access for infection or development of any sinus disease that was thought to be removed by the procedure. Therefore, concern for infection should be minimal but proper steps in hygiene should be taken to further lower the risk of infection.

    Most people that have this procedure done have some form of sinusitis that inhibits or interferes with the normal function of the sinus cavities. In fact, since the frontal sinus cavities are so small and close to the brain, there is even greater concern for these cavities than for the maxillary ones. A frontal sinus infection has the potential to leak into the brain. This makes the sinus procedure a necessity for those with frontal sinus disease or infection.

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    The goal of this procedure is to view or clear the obstruction from the sinus cavity. The results of this procedure are that the cavity is cleared or the obstruction is identified and plans are made to clear it or treat it in some way so that the patient is able to breathe easier using their sinus cavities.

    After the procedure is done, packing may be inserted to deal with any bleeding or drainage. Patients should not remove this packing, but should instead allow it to stay in place until their doctor removes it on a follow up visit. Patients should also plan to have someone with them for a couple of days after the procedure in case the patient experiences any dizziness and needs to return to their doctor. Some nausea may occur and limit the appetite as a result.

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