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ENT Treatment for Nasal Polyps

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ENT Appointment

Nasal polyps are benign growths in the lining of the nose or sinus area. Just because they are benign doesn’t mean that they don’t cause problems.

What are nasal polyps?

These tissue masses are not cancer. They are growths of tissue in the wrong place. They may be brown or pink. They may grow alone or in bunches, taking on the form of grapes. They can occur on one side of your nose, but that is not very common. If you have polyps on one side, you probably have them on the other. Nasal polyps are not associated with polyps in other parts of the body (such as the uterus).

Causes of nasal polyps

If you are over 40 and your parents had polyps, there is a good chance you will have them as well. Genetics and age are strong factors in risk for polyps.

Polyps are not a disease. They are a swelling of tissue. People with allergies, asthma and cystic fibrosis all can get polyps, but the allergies, asthma and cystic fibrosis are not known to cause the polyps. You can think of gravity as one cause. Tissue swells, becomes filled with fluid, and then gravity eventually pulls it down forming the polyp.

How ENTs diagnose polyps

After reviewing your medical history, your otolaryngologist (ENT) will perform an examination. Sometimes the polyps are visible with only the aid of a lighted instrument. In addition to a simple exam, the following procedures may be performed.

CT Scan 

Computerized tomography is a digital process where many two dimensional images are taken from different vantage points to create a three dimensional image. Your ENT can use a CT scan to see polyps or any other abnormalities in the nasal and sinus area.

Endoscopy

A nasal endoscope is a small, thin-lighted instrument with a camera that the ENT can be inserted in your nose to see the entire nasal passage. Your ENT is skilled with the use of an endoscope, as this is the same instrument used to perform certain nasal surgery.

ENT treatment of nasal polyps

There are two approaches to treating polyps: surgical and non-surgical. The non-surgical approach is usually the first treatment.

Non-surgical Treatment

Non-surgical treatment is focused on reducing the size of the polyps and diagnosing and treating the underlying cause of the inflammation that causes the polyps. Steroid sprays may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Oral steroids may also be prescribed. These are not the same steroids that are abused by athletes and body builders, so don’t let the name scare you. In addition, your ENT may order allergy testing to see if you have allergies. If allergies are causing the polyps, you will be prescribed anti-allergy medication. If you have an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Surgical Treatment

If you don’t respond to the non-surgical methods of treatment or if your nasal polyps are very large, surgery will be the recommended approach. Types of surgical treatments include:

Polypetomy: If the polyps are in the nasal passages, your ENT will perform a Polypectomy. This is done under local or general anesthetic. The polyps are removed from the nasal passages and a saline spray may be recommended during the brief recovery process.

Endoscopic surgery:  If the polyps can’t be reached with a simple polypectomy, your ENT will use his nasal endoscope to get through the nasal passages and into the sinus area to remove polyps.