Nasal Polyp Surgery
What you need to know about Nasal Polyp Surgery
When it drastically interferes with breathing and chronic sinus infections become an issue, doctors often recommend nasal polyp surgery for their patient. Knowing more about the condition and how it occurs can be helpful when making the decision to have the procedure.
To understand how the nose works, it may help to liken your nose to the furnace in your home. Air is brought in and then cleaned and warmed before being distributed to other areas. Of course, the process isn’t quite so simplistic in the human body, but the basis is the same. The nose is intricately designed as one of the methods for air intake; filtering, warming and humidifying the air we breathe before it goes on to the lungs. There are two nasal cavities, separated by a sheath of cartilage called the septum, which contain drainage openings and scent receptor cells. The cavities are lined with mucous membranes, which are soft tissues that produce and secrete mucus. Full of little nooks and crannies, the membranes create a maze like environment where air is warmed, moistened and filtered as it passes through before progressing to the lungs.
How polyps form
Formation of nasal polyps occurs in the nasal cavities in some cases when repeated inflammation of these nasal membranes afflicts an individual. Why this occurs is somewhat of a mystery to the medical community, although it is thought that an immune system response plays a role in their development. Allergies are one condition that is also attributed to the presence of such growths. Polyps commonly form in the area where sinuses open into the nasal cavity. They are fleshy growths of the mucous membranes that are benign in nature. Shaped like a teardrop, these growths may appear and disappear with no problem or may develop and remain in the cavity to create residual issues.
Complications of polyps
When numerous polyps develop in the nasal cavity, it is possible that airflow can be inhibited. Another complication is that the natural production of mucus and fluids from the sinuses can be blocked from draining, causing a backup that results in sinus pressure. This leads to chronic sinus infections, obstructive sleep apnea and sometimes in variations of facial structure. Pain, sneezing, congestion, postnasal drip, reduced ability to smell and eye irritation are all symptoms of the presence of polyps.
When polyps are diagnosed, the focus of treatment will be centered on diminishing the size or very existence of the growths. Treating the underlying cause if known will also be addressed. A nasal corticosteroid spray can lessen the amount of inflammation, which in effect can eliminate or at the very least reduce the size of the polyps. This type of treatment is also available in an oral application; however, due to the complications that these oral medications can create, they are only able to be used for a limited time.
In chronic situations where the ability to breathe and smell are hindered, or when conventional corticosteroid treatment is ineffective, nasal polyp surgery is performed. There are a few different methods in which the surgery can be performed:
- Endoscopic sinus surgery. Entering in through the nostril, the surgeon inserts an endoscope, which is a tiny tube that contains a miniscule camera or magnifier. The endoscope extends into the sinus cavity and the polyps are removed through the use of small instruments. No extended hospital stay is required in most cases.
- Polypectomy. When the polyps are either small or few in number, a polypectomy may be performed. An instrument called a microdebrider is often used for this procedure, cutting off and removing the abnormal growth of tissue. This is also an outpatient surgery.
In many cases, polyps will return even after surgery unless preventative measures are taken to reduce the underlying irritation of allergies or infections.
While the growths are benign, they can create many problems with breathing ability and sinus drainage. Nasal polyp surgery can eliminate the problem although, as always, prevention can be the best medicine.