Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Funk-shun-nul End-o-skop-ik Si-nus Sir-jury
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery enlarges pathways to the sinuses. It is done using a special tube that can be passed through the nose.
Reasons for Procedure
The sinuses are hollow areas in the skull that are arranged in pairs. Mucus and other fluids regularly drain from the sinuses through small pathways to the throat. Blockage of these pathways can cause fluids to build up in the sinuses. This can cause pain and infections.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery opens the pathways for drainage. It may be done for people who have recurring sinus infections that have not responded to other treatment options. Most experience excellent outcomes with this surgery.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
To make sure you are ready for surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 2 weeks before the procedure.
Before the procedure, you should:
Local anesthesia will be used to numb the area. If general anesthesia is used, you will be asleep during surgery.
Description of the Procedure
This procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting with no need for an overnight stay. This surgery does not usually require incisions.
A thin tube called an endoscope will be inserted into your nose. Your doctor can view the inside of your nose with this scope. Other surgical tools are passed through the nose to remove abnormal tissues and open the sinus pathways. Your nose may be packed with dressing and/or splints.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
You will have mild swelling and discomfort. Ask your doctor about pain medication.
When you return home, take these steps:
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Fact sheet: sinus surgery. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 28, 2017.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery. UNC School of Medicine website. Available at: https://www.med.unc.edu/ent/for-patients/clinical-services/sinus-and-allergy-1/functional-endoscopic-sinus-surgery. Updated 2002. Accessed November 28, 2017.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 2009. Accessed November 28, 2017.
Slack R, Bates G. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Am Fam Physician. 1998 Sep 1;58(3):707-718.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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