Sinus Surgery FAQ

Originally Published 2007

Editor’s note: Murray Grossan is a noted ENT specialist practicing in Los Angeles


Q. When is sinus surgery the treatment of choice?

A. When there is pure blockage of the sinus openings and medical treatment and home irrigation with the pulsatile irrigator hasn’t cleared the condition. Also if the sinus condition – infection, pressure, etc is causing symptoms

Q. I have heard that Sinus surgery often fails is this true?

A. Sometimes the condition that one is treating by surgery returns or is not cured. There are conditions that defy treatment at this time. No matter how excellent a job we do, the condition is not cured. But if we don’t do the surgery the patient will be worse off. Usually we can give the patient the statistics as to the benefits of the surgery.

Q. Are there different types of sinus surgery?

A. Sometimes we only go to open the sinus openings that have closed. Sometimes, we must enter the sinus cavity and remove diseased tissue. Today telescopes through the nose perform much of the surgery.

Q. Are some types of sinus surgery more successful than others?

A. Most doctors use the techniques shown to be most effective. In some cases we like to use Insta Trak , a method of displaying the sinuses in 3 dimensions and showing the location of the instruments at all times.

Q. How can I tell whether my doctor really knows what he is doing?

A. You can ask your family doctor about this doctor’s reputation, what hospital staff he is a member of, and so on.

Q. Are some doctors over prescribing sinus surgery?

A. Probably not. Surgery is done for sinus problems in other countries at a far greater rate than here. They may not have the luxury of frequent office visits, long term antibiotics, and so on. Remember, any doctor can say ‘Let’s wait for surgery and try this first’. That doesn’t mean that this is the best approach for the patient. We see lots of patients who would have been better off if they had had their surgery years ago when the condition was early.

Q. What should I try first in the way of other remedial actions before going to sinus surgery?

A. Try some of the suggestions at and Also read the Sinus FAQs in our FAQ section such as Sinus Prevention Program and Sinusitis Tips

Q. Is sinusitis a lifelong condition?

A. Acute sinusitis is a single infection that clears. Chronic sinusitis is something that reoccurs. The patient whose chronic sinusitis clears up doesn’t come back to the office. Unfortunately some patients do require long term and repeat treatment that might have been prevented if early on they had been taught to blow the nose very gently, use saline spray without additives, and other methods of prevention.

Dr. Grossan is one of the USA’s leading medical experts on Sinusitis. Dr Grossan is the creator of the pulsatile nasal irrigator attachment to Waterpik, an award winning medical device and subject of numerous research studies over the past 20 years.