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What is a Rhinoscopy?

By Christine Hudson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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From the Greek root rhinos , meaning "of the nose," a rhinoscopy is the examination of the nasal passages, which is often administered with a rhinoscope. This technology allows medical professionals to actually see inside the nose and may be very helpful when determining the cause of any nasal ailments. This procedure is generally noninvasive and painless. The rhinoscope is a small scope inserted into the nasal passage that relays an image back to the medical professional. Some rhinoscopes have rigid necks, but many are more flexible and leave room for removal or extraction tools.

There are several reasons a health professional may perform a rhinoscopy. A nose with consistent nasal discharge or a person with noisy breathing might be examined by means of rhinoscopy in an attempt to discover the root cause. Other symptoms meriting the administration of a rhinoscopy include excessive sneezing, nasal bleeding or swelling or the presence of foreign matter in the nose. The procedure is usually common among children under the age of 4, who may end up with small toys or rocks in their noses.

Doctors, surgeons, and even veterinarians may administer a rhinoscopy to their patients. In fact, endoscopic rhinoscopies are quite common in veterinarian offices because of the variety of debris that can become caught in the noses of cats, dogs, and other domestic animals. People of any age might also need a rhinoscopy if they experience any chronic or painful symptoms.

A rhinoscopy may also be given as a preventative measure—having a rhinoscopy performed can bring a doctor’s attention to problems in the nasal cavity which may not yet be exhibiting symptoms. If a problem is caught early, it may save the patient money, time, and possibly pain. There are two ways in which a rhinoscopy is normally performed. During an anterior procedure, the rhinoscope is inserted through the nose, and in a posterior procedure, it is inserted through the mouth to view the back of the nasal passage. Either of these rhinoscopies may be done in conjunction with a computed tomography (CT) scan and dental exam.

These procedures are typically only performed by trained professionals. While the chances of complications are very small, they do exist. Some nasal inflammation or blockage may be further irritated by a rhinoscopy, no matter how noninvasive it may be. Speaking with a medical professional about the procedure and possible complications, as well as disclosing any nasal problems of the past, is generally recommended.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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