Rhinology (nose and sinus) Overview

A Mayo Clinic rhinology consultation

At Mayo Clinic, doctors who specialize in nose and sinus problems (rhinologists) treat people with nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, skull base tumors and many other conditions. With the rhinology specialty group of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT)/Head and Neck Surgery, you receive team-based comprehensive care for the diagnosis and treatment of your condition. Your rhinologist collaborates with internists and surgeons. And you have access to counseling, pre-surgical assessment, medical and surgical treatment, and follow-up care.

Mayo Clinic rhinologists are experts in diagnosing and treating nose and sinus problems and related complex medical issues. And they have extensive experience in advanced diagnostic tests and surgical techniques, such as endoscopic skull base surgery.

Innovation in diagnosis and treatment

Mayo Clinic rhinologists have contributed to the development of surgical devices and procedures that are now widely used to help people with sinus problems. Whether you have a common problem or an unusual condition, you will benefit from their expertise in using the latest diagnostic equipment and minimally invasive procedures to address your sinus and nasal problems. Not all tests and procedures are available at each location. Please confirm when you request an appointment.

Tests and procedures include:

  • Balloon catheter dilation (balloon sinuplasty)
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Endoscopic skull base surgery
  • Endoscopic orbital surgery
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Septoplasty
  • Transnasal pituitary surgery
  • Turbinate surgery

Comprehensive care for nose and sinus conditions

The experts of the rhinology specialty group use the latest technology and techniques in treating nose and sinus conditions, from common to complex, including:

  • Chronic sinusitis. Treatment of chronic sinusitis — also called chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) — may include surgery, medications, nasal irrigation and follow-up appointments to prevent recurrence.
  • Nasal polyps. People with nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis may also be seen in conjunction with Mayo Clinic colleagues in the allergy and sinusitis clinic. Treatment may include surgery in addition to medical management.
  • Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (Samter's triad). People with nasal polyps, asthma and reaction to aspirin or pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) are managed by a multidisciplinary team including rhinologists and allergists. In addition to surgery and medical therapy, aspirin desensitization can help manage nasal polyps and symptoms.
  • Revision sinus surgery. If you continue to have problems with chronic sinusitis or nasal polyps despite previous sinus surgery, you may need another surgery. Talk with a rhinologist who specializes in sinus surgery.
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Mayo Clinic is a hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) Center of Excellence, designated by the HHT Foundation as a clinic with expertise in diagnosing and treating all aspects of the disorder. Comprehensive care is coordinated through the HHT clinic. Your HHT clinic doctor may refer you to a rhinologist if, for example, you need surgery for serious nosebleeds. Treatment options include nasal cautery, sclerotherapy and intranasal medication.

Endoscopic orbital surgery

Mayo Clinic rhinologists work closely with eye specialists (ophthalmologists) and oculoplastic surgeons for surgical treatment of eye problems, including:

  • Graves' eye disease. People with Graves' eye disease are usually treated by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist). Your Mayo Clinic eye doctor may consult a rhinologist in planning your treatment if he or she thinks you may need a type of surgery that eases pressure in the eye (orbital decompression surgery). Your multidisciplinary care team will meet the same day as your appointments and develop an individualized treatment plan for the health and appearance of your eye.
  • Tumors behind the eye. Tumors behind the eye (orbital tumors) are rare. When these tumors are deep in the sinuses, your doctor may refer you to a rhinologist for a biopsy or to remove the tumor.
  • Persistent tearing. If your eyes tear up frequently, your doctor may refer you to a rhinologist to correct a blocked tear duct. He or she may use a procedure called dacryocystorhinostomy, in which the duct is opened with a small facial incision or with a narrow, flexible tube (endoscope) inserted through the nose. One of the benefits of using an endoscope is that it won't leave a facial scar.

Endoscopic skull base surgery

Mayo Clinic rhinologists work closely with neurosurgeons for surgical treatment of nasal and skull base problems, including:

  • Skull base tumors. Some patients with skull base tumors, such as pituitary tumors, clival chordomas and meningiomas, can be treated with surgical removal of these tumors. In many cases, these tumors can be removed with an endoscopic approach through the nasal sinuses. The optimal approach to treat these tumors is frequently decided by your multidisciplinary team after examining you and reviewing your imaging studies. This surgery can be performed by neurosurgeons and rhinologists.
  • Nasal and sinus tumors. Some benign or malignant tumors may originate in the nasal cavity or sinuses, such as inverting papilloma, esthesioneuroblastoma and sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas. In selected cases, these can be removed endoscopically through the nose utilizing the combined skills of rhinologists, head and neck surgeons, and neurosurgeons during team surgery.

Your treatment team

Surgeons discuss a patient's scans while planning surgery.

When you see a nose and sinus specialist (rhinologist) at Mayo Clinic, he or she may consult with experts in allergy, pulmonology, neurology, neurosurgery, gastroenterology and sleep medicine, or with other medical professionals as needed. For example, if you see a rhinologist for nasal polyps and you also have asthma, your rhinologist works closely with an allergist or pulmonologist to ensure you are treated for both conditions.

Your care team is a multidisciplinary team of skilled doctors who work together so that you get exactly the care you need in an efficient and timely manner. Your Mayo Clinic doctor also coordinates access to Mayo Clinic patient education resources.

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Oct. 23, 2019