FUNCTIONAL ENDOSCOPIC SINUS SURGERY (FESS)
Standard Sinus Surgery
Endoscopic sinus surgery uses small nasal endoscopes to open the natural pathways that drain the sinuses. It is used to treat patients who have chronic sinus issues.
The nose and sinuses are part of the upper respiratory tract system. The function of the nose is to warm, humidify, and filter the air that passes through it. The true function of the sinuses continues to be debated, but it is imperative that the sinuses remain patent and drain normally. If the sinuses become blocked, normal sinus drainage is hindered and sinusitis can develop. Patients with chronic sinusitis have significant impairment in their quality of life.
WHAT ARE THE SINUSES?
There are four paired sets of sinuses in the facial skeleton: 1) the Maxillary sinuses are located beneath the cheeks right under the eyes, 2) the Frontal sinuses are situated behind the forehead above the eyes, 3) the honeycomb shaped Ethmoid sinuses are set between the eyes, and 4) the Sphenoid sinuses are located deep in the nose and below the brain. Each of these is enclosed in a space that drains through an opening (ostium) into the nose. These ostia can become blocked due to inflammation/swelling of the mucosa lining or by tumors or bony structures (turbinates).
EFFECTS OF BLOCKED SINUSES
The term sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses. Common causes of inflammation in the nose are allergies (“hay fever”), acute viral infections, or tobacco smoke. Other important causes include bacterial infections, fungal/mold allergies, and obstructive inflammation due to polyps or abnormally enlarged turbinates. There are two major types of sinusitis:
- Acute sinusitis is an infection that resolves in less than four weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis involves recurring or persistent infections and symptoms that can last twelve weeks or more.
Complications from sinusitis include infections that can spread to the eye socket (orbit) creating a risk for loss of vision or blindness or spread to the brain resulting in meningitis or a brain abscess.
MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF BLOCKED SINUSES/SINUSITIS
- Recurring sinus infections
- Thick yellow or green nasal discharge
- Persistent nasal drainage and congestion
- Upper tooth pain
- Frontal headaches and/or facial pressure
- Fever, fatigue and malaise
TREATMENTS FOR BLOCKED SINUSES
Dr. Gunnlaugsson may treat acute or chronic sinusitis with antibiotics, decongestants, nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines and/or flushing of the sinuses. As a practicing allergist and Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, Dr. Gunnlaugsson also evaluates the possible role of environmental allergies causing the sinus symptoms and treats these appropriately. If these medical treatments fail, surgery may be required to enlarge the sinus openings in order to restore normal sinus function and breathing. Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery employs state-of-the-art technology and is one of today’s safe and effective ways to restore normal sinus function and breathing. It is performed through the nose using small telescopes and requires no external incisions. Dr. Gunnlaugsson has extensive experience with Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and decides upon a treatment plan for each individual patient.