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To make an appointment or refer a patient, contact the Division of Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy.

Diagnosing Sinus Disorders and Allergies

The UPMC Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy Center offers a number of tests for diagnosing allergies and sinus infections and problems.

How to Test for Sinus Infections and Disorders

Sinus CT scans and sinus images

A computed tomography (CT) scan is the type of image doctors prefer for checking the anatomy of the sinuses and signs of sinus infection.

Experts at the Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy Center always order a sinus CT scan before suggesting sinus surgery.

Video nasal endoscopy

An endoscope is a slender device with a video camera attached. Your doctor will insert the endoscope about three inches into the nose to see the sinus drainage sites from the sinuses and the back of the nose (outflow tracts).

Before endoscopy, your doctor will decongest your nose and numb your throat with anesthetic (lidocaine) spray.

The sinus test causes little discomfort, and you can resume normal activities after the sinus exam.

Mucociliary transport study

This test looks at how well the lining of your nose carries the sinus secretion (mucus) that cleanses the nose.

People with defects of the mucus or cilia — the normal microscopic structures that move the sinus secretion within the nose — have increased nasal problems.

Impaired mucociliary transport often occurs in people who have:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Primary ciliary dysmotility syndrome
  • Kartagener syndrome
  • Repeated, prolonged infections

Mechanical cleaning of the nose with topical antibiotics and saline solution is vital in treating this nasal condition.

Sinus Secretion Aspiration

To examine the pus from sinus draining from the sinuses, doctors insert a slender telescope into the nose and use suction to get a sample.

Your doctor at the UPMC Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy Center will send the specimen to the microbiology lab. A specialist will perform a microscopic analysis and culture to find what kinds of bacteria may be causing sinus infections or inflammation.

You will receive your test results within days, and your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat your sinus infection.

How Do You Know If You  Have an Allergy?​

Allergy testing

Allergy skin testing, used for diagnosing allergies, involves placing a tiny amount of the suspected allergen under the top layer skin on your upper arm.

During allergy testing, doctors use:

  • Skin-prick testing as a first screening.
  • Skin endpoint titration to see how allergic you are to the allergen.
  • Patch testing to find the cause of a contact allergy — an allergic reaction after coming into contact with an allergen such as makeup or latex.

In a patch test, your doctor will attach the suspected allergen to a nonreactive backing. This backing will hold the allergen against your skin for 48 to 72 hours.

Diagnosing Allergies: ​A Painless, High-Tech Exam Experience

The UPMC Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy Center offers a minimally invasive and comfortable exam process for diagnosing allergies.

Our cutting-edge technology allows you to experience your allergy test on a 17-inch monitor.

This new technology for diagnosing allergies uses a 30-degree (four millimeter) endoscope that:

  • Provides a painless and more detailed view of your nose and sinus images.
  • Offers a less invasive alternative to the operating room when removing nasal polyps. Doctors can remove them in the office using local anesthesia.
  • Allows doctors to easily take nasal cultures that test for bacteria and fungi for diagnosing a sinus infection.
  • Records the entire exam to keep a visual record of your progress and allergy treatments.

The 30-degree scope is just one example of the many patient services our sino-nasal specialists use to ensure a thorough and proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

To make an appointment or to refer a patient, contact one of our Sino-Nasal Disorders and Allergy Center locations.

Learn More About Testing for Sino-Nasal Conditions and Allergies

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