The field of Rhinology, an area of specialization within otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), focuses on the treatment and surgical procedures related to nose and sinus conditions. Rhinologists are the vanguard in managing complex sinus surgeries, nasal polyp removal, and anterior skull base surgery.

The Rhinologist: An Expert in Sinus Surgery

Sinusitis is a common ailment affecting millions worldwide. While some cases can be managed with medication, others require surgical intervention. Rhinologists have specialty training to handle even the most difficult cases of sinus infections.

The primary aim of sinus surgery is to clear blocked sinuses, restore normal sinus drainage, and alleviate persistent symptoms. A rhinologist is trained in performing Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS), a minimally invasive procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera to navigate the sinuses. The expertise of a rhinologist is especially important for patients who require revision sinus surgery due to complications from a previous procedure.

What is Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)?

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is a minimally invasive surgical treatment using nasal endoscopes and microscopic instruments to enlarge the nasal drainage pathways of the paranasal sinuses for better ventilation and drainage. This procedure is generally used to treat sinusitis and nasal polyps, among other sinus conditions.

Here is a general overview of how rhinologists perform sinus surgery:

  • The surgeon inserts an endoscope into the nose, providing an inside view of the sinuses.
  • Using special instruments, the surgeon then removes polyps and other obstructions that block the sinus openings.
  • The goal is to improve sinus ventilation and drainage while preserving normal anatomy and mucosal tissue.

Advantages of functional endoscopic sinus surgery include:

  • Minimally invasive: With no external cuts, recovery is often faster.
  • Improved symptoms: Many patients experience significant relief from symptoms like facial pain, nasal congestion, and infections.
  • Lower risk: Reduced risk of complications compared to traditional surgery.

Like all surgeries, FESS also has potential risks and complications, including infection, bleeding, or a decreased sense of smell. Your rhinologist will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.

What Types of Procedures Requires Specialized Rhinology Training?

Rhinologists often perform complex endoscopic procedures that general otolaryngologists may not typically conduct. These include:

  • Complex Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (ESS): Commonly used for chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, and certain types of nasal tumors. The aim is to open the sinuses and promote drainage.
  • Revision Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: Performed when initial sinus surgery does not successfully resolve sinus issues.
  • Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery: These surgeries treat conditions affecting the base of the skull, such as pituitary tumors or cerebrospinal fluid leaks.
  • Endoscopic Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR): A procedure to treat tear duct blockages by creating a new tear drain between the nose and lacrimal sac.
  • Endoscopic Orbital Decompression: Often performed for patients with thyroid eye disease. It involves removing some bone from the eye socket to create more space.
  • Endoscopic Optic Nerve Decompression: Performed to relieve pressure on the optic nerve, often due to tumors or trauma.
  • Frontal Sinus Surgery: A type of endoscopic sinus surgery targeting the frontal sinuses. This can be performed to treat chronic sinusitis, frontal sinus fractures or tumors, and other conditions obstructing the frontal sinuses. The goal is to improve drainage and ventilation of these sinuses.

Tackling Nasal Polyps with a Rhinologist

Nasal polyps are soft, noncancerous growths on the lining of your sinuses or nasal passages. They can cause congestion, sinus infections, loss of smell, and breathing difficulties.

While some nasal polyps can be treated with medication, larger or resistant polyps may require surgical removal. A rhinologist can perform this surgery with precision, minimizing risks and enhancing the patient's quality of life post-surgery.

Anterior Skull Base Surgery

Anterior skull base surgery is a highly specialized field that deals with conditions affecting the base of the skull. Rhinologists have the expertise to perform these complex procedures via the nose and sinuses, reducing the need for external incisions and minimizing patient discomfort.

With their extensive training in endoscopic procedures, a rhinologist can expertly navigate this delicate region, tackling conditions such as benign and malignant tumors, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and encephaloceles.


A rhinologist is an expert who can provide comprehensive treatment for various nose and sinus conditions. Whether you need complex sinus surgery, have nasal polyps that require surgical intervention, or need anterior skull base surgery, seeking care from a rhinologist ensures you are in capable hands.