What has gone wrong?
Infection in a sinus causes a secretion of fluid. Usually this fluid will drain away through the small opening into the nose. If the fluid is very thick and the lining of the sinus blocks the opening then sometimes the fluid will not drain away.
The infection can start as a cold or may be an infection with bacteria. Dental infections can spread to the maxillary sinus. This happens because the roots of some of the teeth are very close to the lining of this sinus. Injury to the bones surrounding the sinuses may also cause infection, as may swimming in dirty water.
The aim of the operation is to flush infected fluid out of the sinus through the opening into the nose.
You will usually have a full general anaesthetic and be completely asleep while the operation is carried out. It may be possible to do the operation under a local anaesthetic with or without sedation. You should discuss these options with your surgeon or anaesthetist.
Having flushed away the infected fluid, antibiotic tablets will have a better chance of clearing up the infection completely.
Are there any alternatives?
Repeated courses of antibiotics are unlikely to clear an infected sinus where there has been a build up of fluid.
What if you do nothing?
If you do nothing you may continue to have sinus infection. Your doctor can prescribe more antibiotics for you.
Who should have it done?
People who have infection in the maxillary sinus, which does not respond to antibiotic tablets, should have the operation.
Who should not have it done?
People who have other medical conditions that would make it unsafe for them to have a general anaesthetic should not have one.
It may be possible to do the operation under a local anaesthetic with or without sedation. You should discuss these options with your surgeon or anaesthetist.
Author: Mr Robert Ruckley MB. ChB. F.R.C.S. Consultant ENT surgeon.
© Dumas Ltd 2006