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The Caldwell-Luc procedure, also known as a radical antrum operation, is a surgical procedure generally done for the treatment of chronic maxillary sinusitis, a condition characterized by the obstruction and inflammation of the maxillary sinuses. It is also sometimes performed to obtain a tissue for biopsy of a tumor located in the area below the eyes. The maxillary sinuses are hollow air spaces located on both sides of the nose, just beneath the cheeks. Causes of maxillary sinusitis include allergies, nasal polyps and direct trauma to the face, among many others. Symptoms include fever, clogged nose, facial pain, runny rose and sometimes a toothache.
Otolaryngologists are the medical experts performing the Caldwell-Luc procedure. They are doctors specializing in the treatment and management of patients with disorders related to the ears, nose and throat. The Caldwell-Luc procedure is often done on patients with frequent maxillary sinusitis that does not resolve with other treatments. Patients are usually placed under general anesthesia. A small incision is then made between the gum and the upper lip, and a small portion of the maxillary bone is usually removed. The sinus opening leading to the nose is often made larger. This usually results in improved drainage of natural secretions.
Some side effects may arise after the procedure. The most common is swelling of the face, which resolves after a few days. Other side effects are bruises on the neck, numbness of the upper lip and cheeks, pain while eating or chewing, facial pain and sometimes teeth discoloration. There are usually no visible scars after the operation, as the incision is made under the upper lip.
A patient may go home after a few days in the hospital. He is usually given take-home instructions and medications, such as antibiotics and painkillers, to fight off infection and relieve pain, respectively. A follow-up visit to his physician is also scheduled, usually after a week to monitor the healing process.
The Caldwell-Luc procedure was coined after Dr. Henry Luc, a French laryngologist, and Dr. George Caldwell, an American physician. It was a common procedure before the advent of newer technology, like the endoscope — a flexible tube equipped with a camera which helps surgeons look inside the body. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FES) has largely replaced the Caldwell-Luc procedure in treating chronic maxillary sinusitis. This is because FES is less invasive and has fewer side effects.