What is nasal endoscopy used for?
The most common reasons nasal endoscopy will be performed is in the diagnosis of medical problems such as stuffiness or obstruction in the nasal passages, sinusitis, nasal polyps, nasal tumors, and epistaxis (nose bleeding). Nasal endoscopy can help to determine if the cause of your symptoms are due to infection, inflammation, or an allergic reaction. Symptoms that a patient may seek help for include, for example, drainage of mucous, facial pain or pressure in the area of the sinuses, nasal obstruction, congestion, or a decrease in the patient's sense of smell. Other symptoms may include ear infections, a feeling of ear fullness, or ear popping.
What preparations are made for the procedure?
Usually, just prior to the nasal endoscopy being performed, the physician will spray the nose with both a nasal decongestant to reduce any swelling in the nasal membranes and allow for the endoscope to more easily pass through, and a local anesthetic to numb the area and decrease the chance of sneezing from sensitivity. Patients rarely experience any pain from the procedure. However, if a patient has an unusually small or narrow nasal cavity, or if the nasal membranes are severely swollen, an additional numbing spray may be used for discomfort.
What does the nasal endoscopy procedure entail?
This medical procedure is usually performed in the doctor's clinic. The patient will be seated, and the physician will insert the endoscope into the patient's nose. The endoscope will be attached to a CRT monitor, providing live video, and the patient will remain awake and even be able to follow the procedure. The doctor is able to explain the findings as the exam is performed. The physician will be looking for signs of swelling in the mucous membranes, the presence of drainage from the sinus openings, or deviation of the nasal septum. He / she will also search for the presence of nasal polyps, nasal bleeding, or the presence of tumors within the nasal and sinus cavities. If infection is suspected, a sample may be taken to determine the cause of the infection. In the case that polyps or other masses are found, they may be removed at this time. The endoscope will be withdrawn and in most cases the patient will be allowed to return home the same day. The patient will be advised not to eat or drink for a few hours after the procedure.
What complications may arise?
While nasal endoscopy is generally a low-risk procedure for most people, all surgery carries some risk. Patients with bleeding disorders or those who take blood thinning medication such as aspirin or other anticoagulants should be sure to tell their physician, so that precautions may be taken. In some cases, the surgery may be inappropriate for those patients highly susceptible to nosebleeds. Other potential risks include adverse reactions to the anesthesia, or infection. In patients with heart disease, light-headedness or feeling faint may occur. Other common side effects include sore throat or discomfort in the period following the procedure.
As with any medical procedure, be sure to consult with your doctor about the necessity of the procedure, and whether the potential benefit outweighs the risk in your particular case. Discuss any medical conditions, medications, or other circumstances that may be relevant. Be sure you understand the possible side effects and what to do should a side effect or other unforeseen circumstance arise.