Nasal Endoscopy

During nasal endoscopy, your healthcare provider inserts an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera) into your nose. This gives them a clear, inside view of your sinuses and nasal passages. Nasal endoscopy aids in diagnosing and treating a range of health conditions. It may also be necessary when taking biopsies of lesions or masses.


Medical illustration of an endoscope going up the nasal passage.
An endoscope looks at the insides of your nasal and sinus passages.

What is nasal endoscopy?

Nasal endoscopy (en-dah-skuh-pee) is a procedure used to look at the inside of your nasal cavity and openings to your sinus passage. Your healthcare provider inserts an endoscope (a long tube with a camera and a light) into your nose to examine your nasal and sinus region. The camera captures video images and projects them onto a screen.


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Is rhinoscopy the same as nasal endoscopy?

Yes. The terms “rhinoscopy” (ry-naw-skuh-pee) and “nasal endoscopy” are interchangeable.

Who performs nasal endoscopy?

An ear, nose and throat doctor often performs nasal endoscopy in their office to diagnose or treat nasal or sinus problems.


When is nasal endoscopy needed?

Your healthcare provider may recommend nasal endoscopy if you have:

Nasal endoscopy is also used for certain procedures, including:

  • Obtaining a sinus culture or tissue sample (biopsy).
  • Removing a foreign object from a child’s nose.
  • Treating sinus infections, nasal polyps and nasal tumors.

Test Details

How do I prepare for nasal endoscopy?

Generally, there aren’t any special preparations required for your nasal endoscopy procedure. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you need to do anything specific before your visit. People who take blood thinners should inform their healthcare provider and may need to temporarily stop taking these medications, but this is rarely the case.


What can I expect during nasal endoscopy?

Typically, you’ll be in a seated position for your nasal endoscopy. First, your healthcare provider decongests and partially numbs your nose to make the exam more comfortable. They may also apply a topical decongestant to reduce swelling, which allows the endoscope to move freely. Next, your healthcare provider inserts the endoscope and thoroughly examines your nasal and sinus passages, checking for any abnormalities. After examining one side of your nose, your healthcare provider will repeat this step on the opposite side. If necessary, they’ll remove a tissue sample and send it to a pathology lab for analysis.

How painful is nasal endoscopy?

Nasal endoscopy shouldn’t hurt; though, you’ll probably feel pressure during the procedure. The numbing spray may numb your mouth and throat, as well as your nose, and it does have a bitter taste. The numbness should go away in approximately 30 minutes. Nasal endoscopy after-effects may include slight soreness in your nose and throat. These symptoms usually resolve on their own in one or two days.

How long does a nasal endoscopy take?

In most cases, nasal endoscopy takes one to two minutes to complete.

What can I expect after nasal endoscopy?

Due to the lingering numbness from the anesthetic spray, it’s a good idea to avoid eating and drinking for about an hour after your nasal endoscopy. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to follow any additional instructions.

Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding follow-ups and medications. In many instances, your healthcare provider will schedule another nasal endoscopy in the future to monitor your progress.

What are the risks of nasal endoscopy?

In general, nasal endoscopy is safe. Rarely, however, people may experience complications, including:

  • Adverse reaction to the anesthetic or decongestant.
  • Fainting.
  • Nosebleeds.

Specific risks depend on several factors, including your age and other existing health conditions. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about potential complications during your consultation.

Can nasal endoscopy cause infection?

Very rarely, people may develop an infection following nasal endoscopy. Call your healthcare provider if you develop fever, chills, nausea or other signs of infection.

Results and Follow-Up

When should I know the results of nasal endoscopy?

Your healthcare provider might review the results of your nasal endoscopy with you immediately. If they need more information to design a treatment plan, they may order more imaging tests, such as a CT scan.

When should I call my doctor?

Any time you have a question or concern regarding nasal endoscopy, call your healthcare provider. If you’ve already had the procedure, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you develop pain, fever or other worrisome symptoms.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Nasal endoscopy is a common test used to look at the inside of your nasal and sinus passages. It can help your healthcare provider learn more about what’s causing your symptoms so they can design an appropriate treatment plan. Ask your healthcare provider if nasal endoscopy is right for you.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/08/2021.

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