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Endoscopic Endonasal Surgery

What is endoscopic endonasal surgery?

Endoscopic endonasal surgery is a minimally invasive technique that allows a surgeon to go through the nose to operate on areas at the front of the brain and the top of the spine.

A thin tube called an endoscope is thread through your nose and sinuses, giving your surgeon access to parts of your brain that would be difficult to reach using traditional surgical approaches and often require large incisions and removal of parts of the skull.

Why might I need endoscopic endonasal surgery?

Endoscopic endonasal surgery can be used to remove tumors in areas near the base of the brain or skull, and at the top of the spine. It can also be used to treat problems with the sinuses. The endoscopic endonasal approach has the advantage of allowing the surgeon to reach these areas without the need for large incisions or removal of parts of the skull, so your recovery is often quicker and less painful.

What are the risks of endoscopic endonasal surgery

Any major surgery carries some risk. Most people get through this surgery and heal without problems, but complications can develop. Possible risks include:

  • Reactions to the anesthesia
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Hematoma (a pooling of blood in the wound site)
  • Damage to veins, arteries, nerves, and other structures in the area
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leaking from the nose
  • Infection
  • Slow healing
  • Blood clots
  • Pneumonia

The procedure may carry other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your surgeon before the procedure.

How do I get ready for endoscopic endonasal surgery?

You will be under general anesthesia for this surgery. That means you will be asleep and won't feel anything. If you have any questions about the anesthesia or about any other aspect of the procedure, be sure to ask your medical team in advance.

You can increase the chances for success by preparing correctly. In general, pre-surgery preparation involves these steps:

  • If you smoke, quit at least 2 weeks before your surgery. This will make anesthesia more successful and help with healing.
  • Don't take over-the-counter pain relievers for 2 weeks before your surgery. This includes common products like aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Don't take vitamin E for 2 weeks before the surgery.
  • Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking, any other health problems you have, and any problems you've had with previous operations.
  • Don't eat and drink anything for about 8 hours before your surgery, or as advised by your healthcare provider.
  • You should arrive for surgery at least an hour before your procedure or as instructed by the surgery center. Check in at the admissions desk to fill out any necessary forms, including a consent form that must be signed before the surgery can begin.

Your surgical team will give you more specific directions for you to follow in advance of the procedure. Some of these might be slightly different from those listed above.

What happens during endoscopic endonasal surgery?

You will be asked to change out of your clothes and into a gown. A nurse will start an IV through which you will get fluids and medication during the procedure. You might be given a sedative to help you relax. After you have spoken with the anesthesiologist and your surgeon, you will be given the anesthesia that will let you sleep through the operation.

During the procedure, your surgical team will thread a thin tube through your nose and sinuses to shine a light and a camera on the spot where they need to operate. The camera relays images to a monitor in the operating room during the surgery. Specially designed tools will also be inserted through the nose to cut out and remove tumors or other problem areas.

Some steps might be slightly different from those outlined above. Talk with your healthcare team about what might happen during your procedure.

What happens after endoscopic endonasal surgery?

After your operation, your nose and sinuses may be packed with bandages. These are usually removed within a week after the surgery. You also will be given antibiotics to fight infection. If you feel pain or discomfort, let your healthcare providers know. Most people spend a day or two in the hospital before going home.

Once you are discharged, take any prescriptions you are given as instructed and follow all postoperative instructions.

Call your healthcare provider if you are confused about how to take the recommended medications or if any of the following occur:

  • Pain that can't be managed with prescribed medications
  • Fever of more than 100˚F (37.8˚C)
  • Shaking chills
  • Redness, tenderness, heat, or pus, which are signs of infection, at the surgery site
  • Swelling in the area around the nose
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Any clear drainage from the nose 

Your healthcare team may give you other instructions about what you should do after your procedure.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure
  • The reason you are having the test or procedure
  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure and who will do it
  • When and how will you get the results
  • How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure
Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: Weisbart, Ed, M.D.
Last Review Date: 1/13/2014
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