Safety in endoscopic sinus surgery

K. Christopher McMains

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Endoscopic sinus surgery techniques and technologies have undergone rapid development over the past two decades. Recently, image guided systems have been implemented in endoscopic sinus surgery, carrying the promise of increased safety during surgery. This review compiles available data regarding the incidence of complications in endoscopic sinus surgery, the trends over time, and the impact of image guided surgery on complication rates. RECENT FINDINGS: Reporting of complications in endoscopic sinus surgery is widely variable, confounding attempts to establish accurate data regarding complication rates. Few prospective, randomized trials exist comparing the safety of functional endoscopic sinus surgery with other surgical techniques. Major complications occur in 0-1.5% of cases and minor complications occur in 1.1-20.8% of functional endoscopic sinus surgery cases. Powered instrumentation does not appear to affect the incidence of complications, but may increase the severity of complications. It is unclear whether image guided surgery results in lower complication rates. Practical and ethical considerations make randomized trials to evaluate this issue problematic. SUMMARY: In order to maximize safety, functional endoscopic sinus surgery surgeons must individually and collectively audit current practice, report complications in a systematic way, utilize available technology appropriately to support safe surgery, and diligently refine surgical technique as well as the systems supporting endoscopic surgical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-251
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Complications
  • Endoscopic
  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Safety
  • Sinusitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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