Nasal Endoscopy

Sinuses are hollow chambers formed by the bones of the face and head. Problems in the nose or sinuses can cause trouble breathing through the nose. They can cause pain and drainage from the nose. Or they can cause a loss in the sense of smell. Nasal endoscopy is a procedure that looks inside the nose and sinuses. It is often done by an ear, nose, and throat specialist called an otolaryngologist. It can help find the cause of your symptoms. It can also diagnose infections and help find structural problems in the nose. The procedure is done with a rigid or flexible endoscope. This is a thin, lighted tube with a small camera on it.

Side view of the head showing inflamed sinuses and endoscope entering through the nose.

Preparing for the procedure

Prepare for the procedure as you have been told. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. You may need to stop taking some of these before the procedure. Your healthcare provider will let you know.

The day of the procedure

The procedure is often done in an outpatient clinic. It takes 5 to 10 minutes. You can go back to your normal routine the same day. You may be asked to read and sign an informed consent. This gives the healthcare provider permission to do the procedure. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign. Before the procedure, a decongestant and numbing medicine may be placed into your nose. You may also be given medicine to help you relax. During the procedure:

  • You may sit with a headrest supporting your head. Or you may lie down.

  • Once the nose is numb, the endoscope is carefully placed into the nose.

  • The endoscope is guided through the passageways in the nose until it reaches the opening of the sinuses. As it moves, it gives the healthcare provider a clear view or picture of any problems.

  • The healthcare provider may take tissue samples (biopsies) if needed.

  • During the procedure, polyps, mucus, foreign objects, blockages, or other masses can be taken out with the endoscope.

  • When the procedure is done, the endoscope is gently withdrawn.

  • Gauze may be put into the nose to control any bleeding.

After the procedure

Your healthcare provider may talk with you about the results before you go home. Or you may schedule a follow-up visit to discuss results and treatment choices. After endoscopy, you can often return to your normal routine right away. Follow any directions you have been given. To soothe nasal passages, you may be advised to rinse your nose with saltwater. If so, your healthcare provider will explain how to do this. Call your healthcare provider if you have any severe nosebleeds over the next few days.


You'll likely see your healthcare provider for a follow-up visit. Depending on the results of the endoscopy, more tests may be scheduled.

Risks and possible complications

The risks of this procedure include:

  • Discomfort during the procedure

  • Bleeding from the nose during or after the procedure

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2022
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