Nasal Sinus Polyps
Polyps are tissue swellings within the nose and sinuses that can be responsible for many of the symptoms described by patients with rhinosinusitis. Polyps may simply block the nasal airway creating difficulty in nasal breathing, or they may block the proper drainage of the sinus cavities leading to stagnant secretions within the sinuses that may become infected.
Polyps are generally thought to occur as a result of an ongoing inflammatory process within the nose and sinuses. Although this may be related to allergies, most cases of polyps occur as a result of non-allergic processes.
Whatever the cause, polyps can wreak havoc in the nose and sinuses and make patients miserable. Common symptoms in patients with nasal and sinus polyps include nasal obstruction, decreased sense of smell, recurrent sinus infections, and profuse nasal drainage. Many of these patients feel as though they have a cold all of the time.
If polyps are suspected, the patient may undergo an endoscopic examination in the clinic. This procedure uses a small telescope that is placed inside of the nostril to examine the nose and sinuses. Computed tomography (CT, CAT) scans may help to delineate the precise location of polyps within these cavities.
Medical Treatment of Polyps
After establishing the appropriate diagnosis, multiple medical treatments can be initiated. These medications generally include anti-inflammatory sprays, decongestants, inflammatory mediator inhibitors, and systemic steroid medications. It is important that the physician and patient recognize that medications are often required on a long-term basis in order to reduce polyp size and prevent their re-growth.
In some cases, surgical excision of the polyps is required using a thin telescope (endoscope) which is placed through the nostril in order to visualize the polyps. The sinuses may also be entered in this fashion in an attempt to completely remove polyps.
Following this type of surgery, it is critical to maintain medical treatment and close observation of the nose and sinus cavities to prevent polyp recurrence. In many cases, if a proper medical and surgical treatment plan is carefully followed, patients will not require further surgery on the nose and sinuses to remove polyps.
Our surgeons have a particular interest in patients who have experienced recurrence of polyps following previous nasal and sinus surgeries. Our nasal and sinus disorders program actively participates in ongoing research.