Pediatric Endoscopic Sinus Surgery


Endoscopic sinus surgery is used to open sinus passages.

This allows the sinuses to drain properly which can reduce or eliminate health problems associated with sinusitis. The term endoscopic is used in procedures when an endoscope, which is a small flexible tube that holds a camera and light on one end, is used to assist in the surgery.

The physician will make small incisions inside the nose to allow the endoscope to pass through. During endoscopic sinus surgery, the physician may open existing sinus passages that are blocked by cysts, polyps or thickened membrane or he may create new passages entirely.

What to Expect

The procedure itself generally takes between one and three hours. The child is placed under general anesthesia for the surgery. Younger children typically spend the night in the hospital following the procedure, while older children may be permitted to go home the same day. Endoscopic sinus surgery is often performed at the same time as other procedures such as inserting ear tubes or a tonsillectomy.

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Recovery From Surgery

Immediately following the surgery the child may have trouble swallowing, breathing through the nose and be in pain. During recovery, the bed is elevated to help with breathing and drainage. You can mimic the effect at home by having your child sleep in a recliner or stack pillows on the bed so the head is above the chest.

Packing is sometimes used during this procedure. The packing is to prevent bleeding. In some cases, the packing dissolves on its own, while in others the doctor will remove it after a week or two. Older children can often have the packing removed in the doctor’s office, while younger or less cooperative children may need to be placed under anesthesia.

Your child will be able to feel the packing in the nose. Your child should know what to expect when he wakes up from surgery. That way he will know what he is feeling in his nose, and that he cannot forcefully blow his nose for at least a week after surgery.


Some situations may require you to follow up with your doctor  at UCI’s Sinus Surgery Center earlier than anticipated. If your child has any symptoms that cause concern don’t hesitate to contact his physician. Complications to watch for include any vision problems, leaking of clear fluid from the nose, bright red blood from the mouth or nose, vomiting bright red blood or material that resembles coffee grounds. Also, a croup-like cough or wheezing, fever greater than 100.5 when taken orally, or any signs of dehydration could indicate serious complications that require prompt medical attention.

Pediatric endoscopic sinus surgery is generally safe and effective for treating children who experience recurrent rounds of sinusitis or have severe acute or chronic sinusitis. Recovery is typically quick, and school-age children can generally return to school within a few days. While your child can resume normal activity relatively quickly, he shouldn’t lift anything heavy until his follow-up appointment. Some children require over the counter pain medication for a day or two following the procedure.