What is nasal endoscopy?
Nasal endoscopy is a procedure to look at the nasal and sinus passages. It’s done
with an endoscope. This is a thin, flexible or rigid tube with a tiny camera and a
light. An ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT or otolaryngologist) will often do this
procedure in their office.
The sinuses are a group of spaces formed by the bones of your face. They connect with
your nasal cavity. This is the air-filled space behind your nose.
During the procedure, the healthcare provider puts the endoscope into your nose. They
guide it through your nasal and sinus passages. Images of the area can be seen through
the endoscope. This can help diagnose and treat health conditions. In some cases,
small tools may be used to take tiny samples of tissue (biopsy) or do other tasks.
Why might I need a nasal endoscopy?
You might need a nasal endoscopy if your healthcare provider needs more information
about problems such as:
The endoscopy can show certain details, such as the site of bleeding and swelling
of nasal tissue. It can also be used to look at a growth that might be cancer.
In some cases, a nasal endoscopy can be used as a treatment. For example, it may be
done on a child to remove a foreign object from their nose.
Your provider might also advise endoscopy to see how a treatment for a nose or sinus
problem is working. For example, it can show if nasal polyps have shrunk.
Rhinosinusitis is one of the most common reasons for nasal endoscopy. You may have
symptoms such as nasal blockage, yellow or greenish fluid from your nose, and facial
pain. Your healthcare provider can use the endoscope to look for swelling and polyps.
They may collect pus from the infected area. This can help show what is causing an
infection and how best to treat it.
A healthcare provider may use a nasal endoscope to do minimally invasive surgery.
This is done in a hospital or surgery center. It can treat conditions such as sinus
infection, nasal polyps, and nasal tumors. The surgery is done with very small tools,
and does not need an external cut (incision).
What are the risks of a nasal endoscopy?
Nasal endoscopy is generally safe. But in rare cases there may be complications such
You may be at greater risk for bleeding if you have a bleeding disorder or if you
take a blood thinner. Your own risks may vary according to your age and your other
health conditions. Ask your healthcare provider about the risks that most apply to
How do I get ready for a nasal endoscopy?
Ask your healthcare provider if you should stop taking any medicines before the procedure.
These may include blood thinners. You should be able to eat and drink normally before
the procedure. Your healthcare provider may give you more instructions about what
to do before the test.
Just before the procedure, a topical decongestant may be sprayed into your nose. This
helps reduce swelling and lets the nasal endoscope pass easily through your nasal
cavity and sinuses. Your nose may also be sprayed with an anesthetic, which will briefly
numb your nose. But in healthcare providers may need to avoid these medicines under
special circumstances, though. In certain cases, you may also need a shot (injection)
What happens during a nasal endoscopy?
Ask your healthcare provider about what to expect during your nasal endoscopy. The
following are some things you might experience in a typical procedure:
For the procedure, you will probably sit upright in an exam chair.
After numbing the area, your healthcare provider will place the endoscope into one
side of your nose.
You may find this a little uncomfortable. If so, let your provider know. You may need
more numbing medicine or a smaller nasal endoscope.
In one nostril, your provider will push the endoscope forward to view a part of the
nasal cavity and sinuses.
They may repeat this step 2 more times on the same side of your nose. (Each pass lets
your healthcare provider see a slightly different part of your nasal cavity and sinuses.)
Your provider may then repeat the procedure on the opposite side of your nose. Again,
they may need a few passes of the scope to get the needed information.
If needed, your provider may remove a tissue sample as part of the endoscopy. They
may send this tissue to a lab to be checked.
What happens after a nasal endoscopy?
Talk with your healthcare provider about what to expect after your nasal endoscopy.
Ask if they have specific instructions. If you had your procedure in the office, you
should be able to go home right after the procedure. You should be able to go about
your activities as normal. Let your provider know if you have a nosebleed that doesn’t
The nasal endoscopy often provides the information needed to create a treatment plan.
You might discuss this with your healthcare provider right after your endoscopy. In
other cases, they might want to order more tests, such as a CT scan. If you had a
tissue sample taken during your procedure, these results may take a few days to come
Follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions about medicines and follow-up.
In many cases, your provider will want to schedule another nasal endoscopy in the
future to see how your treatment has progressed.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure