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Nasal Endoscopy

Sinuses are hollow chambers formed by the bones of the face and head. Problems in the nose or sinuses can cause trouble breathing through the nose. They can cause drainage from the nose or loss of sense of smell. Nasal endoscopy is a procedure that looks inside the nose and sinuses. It can help find the cause of your symptoms. It can diagnose infections and help find structural problems in the nose. It can also be used to find benign (noncancerous) growths called polyps. The procedure is done with an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a small camera). This lets the healthcare provider see the inside of the nose.

Side view of the head showing inflamed sinuses and endoscope entering through the nose.

Preparing for the procedure

Prepare for the procedure as you have been told. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, herbs, and supplements. You may need to stop taking some or all of them before the procedure. Your healthcare provider will let you know.

The day of the procedure

The procedure is often done in an outpatient clinic. It takes 5 to 10 minutes. You can go back to your normal routine the same day. Before the procedure begins, a decongestant and numbing medicine may be placed into your nose. You may also be given medicine to help you relax. During the procedure:

  • You may sit with a headrest supporting your head. Or, you may lie down.

  • Once the nose is numb, the endoscope is carefully placed into the nose.

  • The endoscope is guided through the passageways in the nose until it reaches the opening of the sinuses. As it moves, it gives the healthcare provider a clear view of any problems.

  • The healthcare provider may take biopsies if necessary.

  • When the procedure is done, the endoscope is gently withdrawn.

  • Gauze may be put into the nose to control any bleeding.

After the procedure

Your healthcare provider may discuss your results with you before you go home. Or, you may schedule a follow-up visit to discuss results and treatment choices. After endoscopy, you can usually return to your normal routine right away. Follow any instructions you have been given. To soothe nasal passages, you may be advised to rinse your nose with saltwater. If so, your healthcare provider will explain how to do this. Call your healthcare provider if you have any severe nosebleeds over the next few days.


You will likely see your healthcare provider for a follow-up visit. Depending on the results of the endoscopy, more tests may be scheduled.

Risks and possible complications

The risks of this procedure include:

  • Discomfort during the procedure

  • Bleeding from the nose during or after the procedure

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA
Date Last Reviewed: 6/11/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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