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Nasal endoscopy

Nasal endoscopy is a test to view the inside of the nose and sinuses to check for problems.

How the Test is Performed

The test takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Your health care provider will:

  • Spray your nose with a medicine to reduce swelling and numb the area.
  • Insert the nasal endoscope into your nose. This is a long flexible or rigid tube with a camera at the end to look inside the nose and sinuses. Pictures may be projected onto a screen.
  • Examine the inside of your nose and sinuses.
  • Remove polyps, mucus, or other masses from the nose or sinuses.

How to Prepare for the Test

You DO NOT need to do anything to prepare for the test.

How the Test will Feel

This test does not hurt.

  • You may feel discomfort or pressure as the tube is put into your nose.
  • The spray numbs your nose. It can numb your mouth and throat, and you may feel like you cannot swallow. This numbness goes away in 20 to 30 minutes.
  • You might sneeze during the test. If you feel a sneeze coming on, let your provider know.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have a nasal endoscopy to figure out what is causing problems in your nose and sinuses.

During the procedure, your provider may:

  • Look at the inside of your nose and sinuses
  • Take a sample of tissue for a biopsy
  • Do small surgeries to remove polyps, excess mucus, or other masses

Your provider may recommend nasal endoscopy if you are having:

  • A lot of sinus infections
  • Lots of drainage from your nose
  • Face pain or pressure
  • Sinus headaches
  • A hard time breathing through your nose
  • Nose bleeds
  • Loss of sense of smell

Normal Results

The inside of the nose and bones look normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Nasal endoscopy helps with the diagnosis of:

  • Polyps
  • Blockages
  • Sinusitis
  • Swollen and runny nose that will not go away
  • Nasal masses or tumors
  • A foreign object (like a marble) in the nose or sinus
  • Deviated septum (many insurance plans require a nasal endoscopy prior to surgery to correct it)

Risks

There is very little risk with a nasal endoscopy for most people.

  • If you have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medicine, let your provider know so they are extra careful to decrease bleeding.
  • If you have heart disease, there is a small risk that you could feel lightheaded or faint.

Alternative Names

Rhinoscopy

References

Baugnon KL, DelGaudio JM, Hudgins PA. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery. In: Som PM, Curtin HD, eds. Head and Neck Imaging. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 5.

Lal D, Stankiewicz JA. Primary sinus surgery. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 49.

Review Date 7/11/2016

Updated by: Sumana Jothi MD, specialist in laryngology, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.