The ethmoid sinuses are located between your eyes and the bridge of your nose. They’re key to treating most sinus infections because all the other sinuses drain through or next to them. So, if your ethmoid sinuses are blocked, the infection can spread to the other sinuses.

An ethmoidectomy removes infected tissue and bone in the ethmoid sinuses that blocks natural drainage. The surgeon views your ethmoid sinuses with an endoscope, a thin flexible tube with a very small camera and light at the end of it.

Another special instrument called a microdebrider has a tiny curved rotating tip that helps the surgeon remove tissue.

The microdebrider and the camera together help the surgeon identify and remove affected tissue and bone more precisely.


Be sure to ask your doctor for a detailed explanation of the benefits and risks of the procedure, as well as his or her experience performing this kind of surgery.


After your ethmoidectomy, you should have fewer sinus infections along with the symptoms that go with them, like headaches, facial pressure and pain, stuffy nose, and nasal discharge.


All surgery carries some risk from anesthesia and possible infection. With an ethmoidectomy, you may have some bleeding after the operation. There is some risk of a cerebrospinal fluid leak and other serious intracranial injuries to the brain that can be difficult to repair.

Because the ethmoid sinuses are so close to the eyes, there is a risk of damage to the muscle that controls eye movement and the optic nerve itself. This injury is also hard to fix once it’s damaged. Also, bleeding into the eyes can affect your vision if it’s not treated right away.

In very rare cases, patients lose some or all of their sense of smell. Patients with additional health problems may have other risks. Be sure to ask your doctor about potential complications from your procedure.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.