Rhinosinusitis is defined as inflammation of the nose and the paranasal sinuses. The symptoms include nasal blockage, loss of smell, nasal discharge, postnasal drip and facial pain. It is defined as acute sinusitis if complete resolution of symptoms is achieved within 12 weeks. If the symptoms persist more than 12 weeks, it is defined as chronic sinusitis.

Examination for sinusitis must include nasoendoscopy. This procedure is performed by ENT specialists under local anaesthesia. The abnormalities include mucopurulent nasal discharge, the mucosal edema with total obliteration of the sinus outlet and nasal polyps will be detected. Besides, the anatomy of the nasal cavity and sinus outlet can also be seen.

CT scan of the paranasal sinuses is useful for assessment of sinusitis. It can detect mucosal changes within ostiomeatal complex and/or sinuses and also opacity of the sinuses and delineate the anatomy of the sinuses.

Treatment of Acute Sinusitis

Symptomatic therapy

Normal saline lavage is used to remove secretions and promote nasal mucosal healing. Oral and topical decongestants can reduce mucosa congestion and improve drainage. Mucolytic is used to thin mucus secretions, reduce mucus stasis, and promote clearing. Antihistamine can decrease mucus production and diminish nasal discharge. Intranasal corticosteroid is also used to reduce inflammation and improve associated symptoms.


Antibiotics are a common prescription for acute rhinosinusitis. However, only 0.2%-2% of viral upper respiratory tract infections are complicated by bacterial rhinosinusitis and around 40% of acute bacterial infections resolve spontaneously. That means 85%-98% of patients with acute rhinosinusitis are needlessly prescribed an antibiotic Early treatment of rhinosinusitis should be focused on control inflammation to allow sinus drainage and prevent bacterial infection. Antibiotic should be reserved for persistent moderate to severe disease and complications.

Treatment of Chronic Sinusitis

A careful history taking and past medical records review are important. A thorough physical examination including fiberoptic nasoendosocpy is necessary to delineate the patient's anatomy. CT scan of paranasal sinus will help document the extent of disease and clarify any other anatomic abnormalities. An optimal medical treatment consists of antibiotic, nasal saline irrigation, intranasal steroid spray should be given. The patient should then be re-evaluated and restaged in 1 month. If the patent is not responsive to the treatment, surgical intervention should be considered.

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

The surgery is done under general anaesthesia. The sinus opening will be widened with all the obstruction removed. The sinuses will be cleansed with the mucopus drained. The normal mucus clearance mechanism will be restored. The operation is performed inside the nose under endoscopic control with no external surgical scar. In certain situation, it will combine with other nasal surgeries (such as septoplasty or polypectomy) to improve the access of the surgical field and the ventilation of the sinuses.

Postoperatively, the nose will be packed with dressing for hemostasis. The dressing will be removed in 1 to 2 days. Nasal saline irrigation should be started after the removal of nasal packing.

The complications include bleeding and infection which is not common. Rare complications include brain and eye injury.

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