What is an Ethmoidectomy?

The ethmoid sinuses are the small sinuses located behind the bridge of the nose, near the eyes. Because they are close to the nostrils and other sinuses drain through them, the ethmoids are particularly susceptible to blockages and infection. When this happens, it can cause chronic sinusitis, pain, and chronic post-nasal drip. If other medications fail to clear the ethmoid sinuses, an ethmoidectomy may be performed.

An ethmoidectomy is a surgical procedure to clear and open the ethmoid sinuses. It is almost always performed via an endoscope, a thin fiber-optic tube that fits through the nostril, so there are no scars. An ethmoidectomy removes badly infected tissue and bone from the ethmoid sinus, opening the space up and allowing it to heal and drain properly. The opening from the sinus to the nostril is often also enlarged. This makes it easier for the sinus to drain properly, which helps heal the infection. It also makes it easier for inhaled medications (such as sprays and rinses) to reach the infected tissue.

After an ethmoidectomy, you may have slight pain or discomfort, as well as increased congestion while the sinus blockage drains away. This should get better within the first few days. Complete recovery takes only a few weeks. You may be prescribed medications to help you heal, such as antibiotics or saline rinses for your nose.

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