A thin, flexible or rigid viewing tube (endoscope) is passed through the nasal passages. Fiberoptic cables permit direct visualization of the nasal passages, sinuses, and throat. In addition, various instruments may be passed through the scope to obtain fluid or tissue samples for laboratory examination, and to perform therapeutic procedures.

Purpose of the Rhinoscopy

  • To visually inspect the nasal passages, sinuses, septum (the wall of tissue dividing the nasal cavity), vocal cords (larynx), and nearby structures for abnormalities, such as structural defects, nasal polyps, a blockage, or a laryngeal injury
  • To diagnose recurrent or resistant sinus infections (sinusitis)
  • To drain the sinuses, dispense antibiotics, or remove polyps from the nose and throat
  • To determine what is causing discharge from the nose (including nosebleeds), sneezing, snoring or noise while breathing/wheezing.

Who Performs It

  • An allergist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist)

Special Concerns

  • People who experience frequent nosebleeds or those with a severe bleeding disorder may not be suitable candidates for this procedure.

Before the Rhinoscopy

  • No special preparation is necessary.

What You Experience

  • You will sit in a chair with a headrest.
  • A local anesthetic is sprayed into your nose, and may also be applied to the back of your throat to suppress the gag reflex.
  • The doctor inserts the scope into a nostril and then closely inspects your nasal passages, sinuses, larynx, and nearby structures, looking for any abnormalities.
  • If appropriate, a suction device may be used to remove fluid, or instruments may be passed through the scope to obtain tissue samples.
  • If an infection is suspected or there is a buildup of mucus, the doctor may administer antibiotics or suction the mucus away.
  • This procedure generally takes only 10 to 15 minutes.

Risks and Complications

  • This is a safe procedure. You may experience a nosebleed, nasal discomfort, and coughing.

After the Rhinoscopy

  • You will be given a gauze pad to absorb any blood or fluid that may drain from your nose.
  • Do not eat or drink until your gag reflex returns, usually in a few hours.
  • You may resume your usual activities.


  • During the visual inspection, the doctor will note any abnormalities such as inflammation, blood, secretions, or growths. This examination may be sufficient to provide a definitive diagnosis.
  • If tissue or fluid samples were taken, specimen containers may be sent to several different laboratories for examination.
  • If a definitive diagnosis can be made, appropriate treatment will be initiated.
  • If further evaluation is necessary, a CT scan or an MRI of the head may be recommended.


The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Medical Tests

Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommmunities.com

Published: 17 Jan 2012

Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014