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Complications of Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Risks of Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, endoscopic sinus surgery has associated risks. Although the chance of a complication occurring are very small, it is important that you understand the potential complications and ask your surgeon about any concerns you may have.
- Bleeding: Most sinus surgery involves some degree of blood loss, which is generally well tolerated by the patient. However, on occasion, significant bleeding may require termination of the procedure. Although most patients do not require nasal packing, a few patients will require a small nasal pack or tissue spacer to be removed after one week. Blood transfusion is rarely necessary and is given only in an emergency.
- Recurrence of disease: Although endoscopic sinus surgery provides significant symptomatic benefits for the vast majority of patients, surgery is not a cure for sinusitis. Therefore, you can expect to continue with your sinus medications even after successful sinus surgery, although in general your requirements for such medications should be lessened. In some instances, additional "touch-up" or revision surgery may be necessary to optimize your surgical outcome.
- Spinal fluid leak: Because the sinuses are located near the brain, there is a rare chance of creating a leak of spinal fluid (the fluid lining the brain) or injuring the brain. Should the rare complication of a spinal fluid leak occur, it may create a potential pathway for infection, which could result in meningitis. If a spinal fluid leak were to occur, it would require surgical closure and hospitalization.
- Visual problems: Visual loss has been reported after sinus surgery due to injury to the eye or optic nerve. The potential for recovery in such cases is not good. Fortunately, such a complication is extremely rare. Injury to the eye muscles may result in double vision. Persistent tearing of the eye is another possible complication. Tearing problems usually resolve on their own but occasionally require additional surgery.
- Other risks: Other uncommon risks of surgery include alteration of sense of smell or taste; persistence and/or worsening of sinus symptoms and facial pain; change in the resonance or quality of the voice; and swelling or bruising of the area around the eye.
Some patients have a crooked nasal septum ("deviated septum") that needs to be corrected at the time of surgery through a short procedure called septoplasty. This procedure is performed through a small hidden incision and involves dissolvable stitches that are hidden in the nostril area. If you require septoplasty, there are additional risks associated with this procedure. The primary risks are bleeding or infection in the area of the septum; numbness of the front teeth; the development of a hole through the septum (septal perforation); brain fluid leak; or recurrence of septal deviation. There is a very small risk that such occurrences could alter the external appearance of the nose.
Sinus CenterOffering comprehensive medical care for problems of the nose and paranasal sinuses, including Graves' disease, sinus headaches, and deviated septums.
Stanford Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery801 Welch Road
Palo Alto, CA 94305