Sinus Surgery Glossary

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Abscess

When the body fights an infection it sends white blood cell to fight the bacteria and pus is made. An abscess occurs when the pus gets trapped in an area and can’t get out. Antibiotics have a difficult time reaching this abscess and surgical drainage may be required.

Acetaminophen

This drug is used to treat mild to moderate pain including sinus pressure, headaches, tooth pain, cold or flu pain, and to reduce fevers. It is over the counter and one brand name is Tylenol. It can also be used in moderate to severe pain relief in narcotic drugs like percocet. Too much acetaminophen can damage the liver.

Acute

This is an unwelcome phenomenon experienced to a severe degree. Acute sinus infections last up to one month and are always sudden, severe, and unwelcome.

Adenoids

Lymphatic tissue where white cells live located in the back of the nose. Adenoids can grow to obstruct breathing, especially in very young children. They can also become infected and require antibiotics. Adenoidectomy removes the tissue to open the posterior nasal airway.

Ageusia

Loss of the taste sensation of the tongue. The inability to sense sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami (savory). Not to be confused with anosmia which is loss of the sense of smell.

Airway

Airway Obstruction

A blockage inside the airway that prevents air from passing in one or both directions. This can be partial or complete.

Alimentary Canal

Where food travels from the lips to the anus; includes the esophagus, stomach and intestines.

Allergic Reaction

This occurs when your immune system overreacts to substances that it shouldn’t. Things like dust, peanuts or pollen can trigger an allergic reaction. Symptoms can range from hives, a runny nose and itching all the way to complete system failure in anaphylaxis.

Allergy

This is a damaging immune response to a substance that is seen as foreign to the body. These may be foods, pets, dust, metals, or almost any other substance.

Allergy Shots

Weekly or monthly injections that are meant to make you less responsive to substances to which you are allergic. They usually start with low amounts of the substance in the injection and then progress to higher percentages as tolerated.

Anatomy

The branch of science concerned with the structures of the body. Also, it means the body as a whole.

Anaphylaxia

When your immune response overreacts in an extreme way that can send you into shock. Your airway can obstruct and your blood pressure drop which can cause system collapse. Common causes of anaphylactic shock are bee stings, peanuts, and penicillin.

Anesthesia

This controls pain during a surgery or procedure. This can also control your blood pressure, heart rate, make you relaxed or put you to sleep. Local anesthesia is for one spot like a finger, regional anesthesia can block a larger part of your body, and general anesthesia lowers your total level of consciousness. ‘Twilight’ anesthesia is general anesthesia to keep you relaxed during surgery without intubation.

Anosmia

Loss of the sense of smell. The human can differentiate over 20 million scents and these are all lost. This can most commonly occur from trauma or a viral infection although some are born with anosmia. The sense of taste is generally still intact.

Antibiotic

Medicines to inhibit the growth or kill bacteria. Common types include penicillin, azithromycin, and clarithromycin. Some types may also have anti-inflammatory properties. They do not kill viruses and killing bacteria may allow yeast to grow.

Antibiotic Resistance

Certain bacteria develop defense mechanisms to types of antibiotics. This makes the antibiotic ineffective at controlling the bacteria.

Antifungal

Inhibits the growth of fungi. May be a medicine or other substance.

Antihistamines

White cells release histamines which cause swelling, itching and congestion. Antihistamines block the effect of the histamines and the symptoms associated with histamines.

Balloon Sinuplasty

A guide-wire is inserted into the sinus and a balloon inflated to open the sinus more widely. This can be performed in the frontal, maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.

Barosinusitis

When the pressure inside your sinuses is different than outside pressure there can be inflammation and pain caused inside the sinus. This is also called aerotrauma, barotrauma, or sinus squeeze. It most commonly occurs in the frontal sinus.

Cavernous Sinus

This is the area on either side of the sphenoid sinus containing blood vessels and nerves. Vessels that cross it include the carotid artery. Nerves control eye muscles and function, tearing and facial sensation.

Cavities

Any space inside the body like a sinus cavity or chest cavity. Also a dental infection.

Cheek

The soft tissue over the zygomatic bone that is under the eye of each side and lateral to the nose. Pressing the cheek may cause pain with a maxillary sinus infection on that side.

Cilia

The small “brush-like” structures in the nose and other respiratory structures that sweep dust and mucus out of the respiratory system to be swallowed.

Common Cold

Any of numerous viruses that cause a short upper respiratory syndrome. Symptoms include a runny nose, congestion, fatigue, sneezing, and cough. Includes the rhinovirus and coronavirus.

CT Scan

Computerized Tomography. An X-ray of your sinuses that slices the sinuses into 2 to 5 mm sections. Sinus anatomy and disease are easily seen. On CT scan the bone is white, air is black, and everything else is grey.

Decongestant

A medication that shrinks the swelling inside of the nose. They do this by decreasing blood flow to swollen tissue. Includes pills like pseudoephedrine and topical liquids like oxymetazoline.

Deviated Nasal Septum

The septum is the midline dividing the inside of your nose and it is termed “deviated” when it is crooked enough to block your breathing on one or both sides. It may require septoplasty which is surgical straightening of the nasal septum.

Discharge

Liquid coming from inside the body.

Drain

Liquid from inside the body that is going into the alimentary canal, lungs or outside of the body.

Drip

Liquid that periodically drains from the body.

Dry Mouth

The lack of saliva in the oral cavity.

Endoscope

A flexible or rigid lighted tube that can be used to look into the body.

ENT

An Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. Also, an Otolaryngologist.

Ethmoid

The sinus on the left and right from the nasal bones to the back of the nose and between the eyes. Includes 4 to 10 bony grapelike cells.

External Valve

The narrow area on the left and the right of the nose composed of the lower septum inferior turbinate head and lower lateral cartilages. Collapse or narrowing may obstruct breathing on that side of the nose.

Fever

A body temperature that is abnormally high. Usually defined as a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees F.

Flu

The bone from the top of the eyes to the temples laterally and above the hairline. Contains the frontal sinuses.

Frontal Bone

The bone from the top of the eyes to the temples laterally and above the hairline. Contains the frontal sinuses.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

A minimally invasive surgical procedure to restore the natural drainage of the sinuses.

Fungal

Caused by a fungus or fungi. In the sinuses, either an allergic reaction to mold spores or overgrowth of fungi.

Hay Fever

Allergic rhinitis. Causes itchy eyes, congestion, and a runny nose.

Headache

Continuous pain in the head. May be from tension, migraines, trauma or sinuses and allergies.

Histamine

A chemical your body releases in response to allergens. Causes inflammation with congestion, itching, and swelling in your body.

Humidifier

A device to add moisture into the air. May be warm steam or cool mist.

Ibuprofen

An NSAID, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, that reduces body inflammation, fever, and pain. May increase your risk of bleeding.

Immune

Resistance to an infection or toxin from sensitized white blood cells producing antibodies.

Infection

Affected with a disease causing organism such as a virus, bacteria or fungus.

Inflammation

A localized or systemic swelling of the body. Caused by injury or infection.

Influenza

The flu. A virus that causes fever, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. Often occurs in epidemics. You may receive a flu shot that targets the most likely influenza virus for that year.

Internal Valve

The narrow area on the left and the right of the nose composed of the septum and medial upper lateral cartilages. Collapse or narrowing may obstruct breathing on that side of the nose.

Lymph

A clear fluid in the body containing white blood cells that bathes the body tissues. Contained in the body lymphatic system.

Migraine

A condition with a moderate to severe headache that is often throbbing. Often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound.

Mucosa

A membrane containing mucous glands that lines the body cavities and passages that connect directly or indirectly with the body exterior. Includes the digestive, respiratory and genitourinary tracts.

Mucus

A slimy substance secreted by mucous membranes for lubrication and protection.

Nasal Decongestant

A drug that shrinks the swollen mucous membranes of the nose. May be a pill or a nasal spray.

Nasal Endoscopy

Using a lighted tube to examine the visible structures inside the nose and sinuses.

Nasal Passage

A channel for air passage inside the nose. They are coated with mucous membranes that have cilia (tiny hair-like cells) which direct mucus towards the throat.

Nasal Polyps

Grape-like growths that hang down from the sinuses. They may obstruct the nose, block sinuses and cause loss of smell. Caused by inflammation from allergies, asthma, drugs or immune disorders.

Nasal Septum

The structure that divides the inside of your nose into left and right sides. Composes of cartilage and bone and covered by a mucous membrane on both sides.

Nasal Steroid Spray or Drops

Corticosteroids placed inside the nose to block inflammation. Includes fluticasone and budesonide.

Nasal Wash

Saline that is used to irrigate the inside of the nose to wash out dust, allergens and infectious substances.

Neti Pot

The device used to rinse the nasal passages with saline to wash out dust, allergens and infectious substances.

Obstruction

Blockage. May be blockage of the nose or of the sinuses or any other passage.

Osteomyelitis

Inflammation of the bone or bone marrow. This is usually due to an infection.

Otolaryngologist

An ENT doctor. A physician that treats the Ears, Nose, and Throat.

Polyps, Nasal

Grape-like growths that hang down from the sinuses. They may obstruct the nose, block sinuses and cause loss of smell. Caused by inflammation from allergies, asthma, drugs or immune disorders.

Post-Nasal Drip

The sensation that excessive mucus is being produced in the nose and draining down the throat. Also termed upper airway cough syndrome, UACS.

Rhinitis

Inflammation of the mucous lining of the nose marked by a runny nose, congestion, itching and sneezing. May be allergic or non-allergic.

Rhinoscopy

Using a lighted tube to examine the visible structures inside the nose and sinuses.

Saline Rinse

A solution or iodine-free salt, a baking soda buffer, and distilled or purified water that is used to irrigate the inside of nose to wash out dust, allergens and infectious substances.

Septoplasty

A surgical procedure to straighten the nasal septum which is the structure dividing the inside of the nose into left and right. Performed to improve nasal obstruction or assist in opening sinuses.

Septum

The structure that divides the inside of your nose into left and right sides. Composes of cartilage and bone and covered by a mucous membrane on both sides.

Sinus

A cavity within bone or other tissue. In the nose they are covered with mucous membranes and connect the nasal passages to the nasal cavities.

Sinus Headache

Pressure or throbbing inside the delicate mucosal lined bony cavities inside the nose. May be felt as pressure inside the forehead, cheeks, and eyes.

Sinuses

The cavities within the nose they are covered with mucous membranes and connect the nasal passages to the nasal cavities.

Sinusitis

Inflammation of the sinuses. Causes may include viruses, bacteria, allergens, polyps or medication.

Sphenoid Bone

The bone in the back of the nose containing the sphenoid sinus. It contains the optic nerves and carotid arteries among other nerves and vessels.

Staphylococcus

A round bacteria that often occurs in grape-like clusters. May live in the skin or body membranes and some can have the potential of causing infection.

Steroid

Hormones produced by the body including cortisol and the sex hormones. Corticosteroids may be taken to prevent body and nasal inflammation.

Stuffy Nose

The sensation of congestion inside the nose that makes it feel like it is hard to breathe though the nose.

Turbinates

The bony structures on either side of the nose covered with mucosal membranes. They cause turbulence to warm, humidify, and purify the air we breathe. From bottom to top they are the inferior, middle, and superior turbinates.

Turbinate Hypertrophy

Enlargement or the mucosally covered bony structures on either side of the nose which has caused nasal obstruction.

Turbinoplasty

A surgical procedure to reduce the size of the mucosally covered bony structures on either side of the nose to improve the nasal airway.

Vestibular Stenosis

Collapse of the internal or external valves of the nose which cause obstruction of the nose.

Viral Infection

Any infection caused by a virus. Includes influenza, hepatitis, herpes, and the common cold.