Sinus surgery at St. Vincent’s incorporates the most advanced science and technology in its approach to rectifying conditions, abnormalities, disorders and obstructions interfering with, or damaging, normal sinus health and function.
In the hands of our highly skilled ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons, also called otolaryngologists, breakthroughs such as fiber-optic developments in endoscopic technology have become readily available to our patients. Indeed, U.S. News and World Report recently rated St. Vincent’s among the nation’s top hospitals for ENT care.
What determines if sinus surgery is needed?
At St. Vincent’s, surgery is ONLY recommended when all other methods of correction have failed. However, sinus surgery may be entirely necessary in a number of instances.
Most frequently, surgical intervention may be recommended for:
- Recurring or chronic sinus infections (sinusitis) that does not respond to medication
- A nasal polyp or cyst
- Deviated septum: when the septum, or wall separating the nasal cavities, is severely deviated from the midline position
- A foreign body that has lodged in the sinus passage and cannot be otherwise removed
Of these, chronic sinusitis is most frequently seen. The body’s system of sinuses is comprised of hollow chambers in between bones in the face and head. Mucous, which protects the body’s epithelial cells by secreting certain proteins and other substances, is swept along by tiny, hair-like cilia that line the sinus passages and help them drain.
An illness, allergy or pollutants can cause the blood vessels to become inflamed, which in turn cause the tissue of the membrane to swell, disrupting this process. Bacteria or virus invade, producing infection. Usually a case of sinusitis lasts only about 10 days then clears up.
In chronic sinusitis, the infection grows worse, does not respond to medications, and causes serious pain. This can go on for weeks during which fever medications, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays are tried. Desensitization injections for allergy, or antibiotics if the infection is bacterial, may be used. If, however, the infection does not resolve, endoscopic surgery may be recommended.
Here at St. Vincent’s, the minimally invasive surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis in our new Ambulatory Surgery Center and patients have little discomfort. Endoscopic surgery involves a very thin fiber-optic tube that is inserted into the nose for direct visual examination. The endoscope locates the area of infection without incision and the infection or obstruction is cleaned out with no damage to surrounding areas.
A general anesthesia is used, and postoperative care is minimal. The patient suffers no external scarring as the removal of abnormal or obstructive tissue is then done through the nose. Most patients resume normal activities almost immediately. At St. Vincent’s, sinus surgery results in a much safer, quicker procedure and the ability to tailor the process to each individual patient.
While open surgery, which requires longer surgical and healing time, is still performed in extreme cases, the need for this has narrowed due to the streamlining of the endoscopic technology. At St. Vincent’s, the availability of 64-slice CT-scans and calibrated state-of-the-art equipment enables our surgeons to know with precision exactly where they are in the skull when they operate. The surgical process is therefore quicker and tailored to each individual patient.
St. Vincent's Medcial Center: Surgical expertise when you need it most.
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