FESS is an entirely new way to return the nose and sinuses back to their original, anatomical state. I am fortunate to be one of the early practitioners in this type of surgery. It was a privilege to be the first fellowship-trained nasal and functional endoscopic sinus surgeon in the country. I received this fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical Center while studying under my mentor, the pioneering surgeon, Dr. David W. Kennedy. At the time, many physicians were resistant to the FESS approach. They claimed that Kennedy did not know what he was doing and that his groundbreaking work was nothing more than a fad that would disappear without a trace. Many of my peers ridiculed me for taking the fellowship, claiming that traditional sinus surgery was the way to go.
However, I was more confident. I thought the technology was outstanding. Physicians have used endoscopes as far back as the early 1900s. Kennedy had first learned about these surgery techniques in Europe, and introduced them in the United States. My time at Johns Hopkins Medical Center proved to me that FESS was on the right track; and although I was previously trained as a traditional sinus surgeon, I was completely converted to the other side. I believed that FESS was the way of the future and never looked back.
In 1989, after my fellowship was completed, I returned to New
York. Again, my colleagues snickered. Most of the otolaryngologists were still convinced that FESS was soon to become obsolete. I spoke with my colleagues in general surgery, neurosurgery, and cardiothoracic surgery and advised them to take a look at the endoscopes and apply them in their own fields. They also laughed.
It is now more than 16 years later, and FESS is still considered state of the art. Traditional sinus surgery is rarely practiced, although there are certain indications when it is necessary, and it is still an important tool for sinus surgeons to understand. Today, most new surgeons are trained solely on the endoscope and are taught to perform FESS. What’s more, endoscopic surgery is now being performed in almost every other branch of surgery.
I have taught many FESS courses in the United States and abroad. I have had the privilege to teach thousands of surgeons my technique. I am honored that my colleagues have now accepted and embraced FESS, and I am proud to be one of the pioneers.