Clinical UM Guideline


Subject: Diagnostic Nasal Endoscopy
Guideline #:  CG-SURG-57 Publish Date:    10/17/2018
Status: Reviewed Last Review Date:    09/13/2018


This document addresses the diagnostic use of nasal endoscopy in the office or outpatient setting. The nasal endoscope is a thin, rigid or flexible tube with an attached light source which is passed through the nostril to evaluate the deeper internal nasal anatomy, central airway and lateral or posterior aspects of the nasal cavity and sinuses. This procedure is used when an evaluation using a nasal speculum is not adequate.


Clinical Indications

Medically Necessary:

The use of diagnostic nasal endoscopy is considered medically necessary for the initial evaluation and visualization of the nasal anatomy when there are symptoms suggestive of nasal or sinus origin and physical examination (including a nasal speculum evaluation) does not provide sufficient clinical information to establish a diagnosis. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Evaluate chronic sinonasal symptoms when there is a suspicion of:
    1. Nasal obstruction not due to septal deviation that is refractory to medical therapy; or
    2. Chronic sinusitis
  2. Monitor for recurrent nasal polyps
  3. Initial diagnosis or interval surveillance of sinonasal neoplasms
  4. Evaluate clear rhinorrhea if cerebrospinal fluid leak is suspected
  5. Assessment of facial pain suggestive of rhinogenic origin
  6. Evaluation of recurrent or single severe posterior nasal epistaxis
  7. Endoscopically guided cultures for recurrent sinusitis which has failed empiric antibiotic therapy or if empiric antibiotic therapy is limited by drug allergies

A repeat diagnostic nasal endoscopy is considered medically necessary when the symptoms do not improve or worsen following treatment (medical/surgical).

Not Medically Necessary:

Nasal endoscopy is considered not medically necessary when the criteria above have not been met, and for all other indications, including as a screening tool in the evaluation of an asymptomatic individual.


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this guideline are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.




Nasal endoscopy, diagnostic; unilateral or bilateral (separate procedure)



ICD-10 Diagnosis



All diagnoses

Discussion/General Information

Nasal endoscopy is an established diagnostic tool used to evaluate the nasal passages and structures which are inaccessible by nasal speculum. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology work group report on nasal and sinus endoscopy in resistant rhinosinusitis (2006) notes “Endoscopy is a useful technique that affords the allergist the ability to assess and localize sinus pathology with far greater precision than a routine nasal exam. Use of endoscopy can also improve diagnostic accuracy and thereby reduce costly and unnecessary medication usage (e.g., antibiotics).” The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) guideline strongly recommends the use of nasal endoscopy to confirm a diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis.

In the 2010 AAO-HNS guideline on the diagnosis and management of nasal valve compromise (NVC), there was consensus among the panel that nasal endoscopy is useful in ruling out causes of symptomatic nasal obstruction other than NVC. While nasal endoscopy may be useful in diagnosing NVC, there was no consensus on whether endoscopy is routinely indicated.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN®) Clinical Practice Guideline for Head and Neck Cancers (2018) includes a 2A recommendation for nasal endoscopy, when clinically indicated, for the workup of ethmoid and maxillary sinus tumors. The NCCN does not include recommendations for repeat nasal endoscopies following the initial diagnostic work-up.

The AAO-HNS 2015 clinical indications note that in order for diagnostic nasal endoscopy to be appropriate, at least one of the following conditions should be present:

  1. Anterior rhinoscopy insufficient to account for symptoms.
  2. Abnormal anterior rhinoscopy requiring more thorough nasal evaluation, including, but not limited to suspected chronic rhinosinusitis, sinonasal polyposis, neoplasm, and/or foreign body.

In a position statement on diagnostic nasal endoscopy (2014), the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) lists common indications for the use of nasal endoscopy as a diagnostic tool which includes:

The ARS notes “Overall, nasal endoscopy is a safe and low risk procedure. Nonetheless, potential complications such as mucosal trauma and bleeding may occur, particularly in susceptible patients with increased risk of bleeding, such as those receiving aspirin or other anticoagulant medications (i.e. Plavix, Coumadin, etc.).”


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Bhattacharyya N, Lee LN. Evaluating the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis based on clinical guidelines and endoscopy. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010; 143(1):147-151.
  2. Jiang ZY, Kou YF, Batra PS. Endoscopic culture-directed antibiotic therapy: Impact on patient symptoms in chronic rhinosinusitis. Am J Otolaryngol. 2015; 36(5):642-646.
  3. Krouse J, Lund V, Fokkens W, Meltzer EO. Diagnostic strategies in nasal congestion. Int J Gen Med. 2010; 3:59-67.
  4. Marseglia GL, Pagella F, Klersy C, et al. The 10-day mark is a good way to diagnose not only acute rhinosinusitis but also adenoiditis, as confirmed by endoscopy. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2007; 71(4):581-583.
  5. Ryan WR, Ramachandra T, Hwang PH. Correlations between symptoms, nasal endoscopy, and in-office computed tomography in post-surgical chronic rhinosinusitis patients. Laryngoscope. 2011; 121(3):674-678.
  6. Wuister AM, Goto NA, Oostveen EJ, et al. Nasal endoscopy is recommended for diagnosing adults with chronic rhinosinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014; 150(3):359-364.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). Clinical Indicators: Diagnostic Nasal Endoscopy. Updated January 2015
  2. American Rhinologic Society (ARS). Position Statement – Diagnostic Nasal Endoscopy (31231). Revised January 24, 2014. Available at: Accessed on August 20, 2018.
  3. Han JK, Stringer SP, Rosenfeld RM, et al. Clinical Consensus Statement: Septoplasty with or without Inferior Turbinate Reduction. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015; 153(5):708-720.
  4. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology® (NCCN). © 2018 National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. Head and Neck Cancers (V.2.2018). Revised June 20, 2018. For additional information visit the NCCN website: Accessed on August 20, 2018.
  5. Rhee JS, Weaver EM, Park SS, et al. Clinical consensus statement: Diagnosis and management of nasal valve compromise. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010; 143(1):48-59.
  6. Rosenfeld RM, Piccirillo JF, Chandrasekhar SS, et al. Clinical practice guideline (update): adult sinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015; 152(2 Suppl):S1-S39.
  7. Slavin RG, Spector SL, Bernstein IL et al.; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: a practice parameter update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005; 116(6 Suppl):S13-S47. Archived.
  8. Stankiewicz JA, Chow JM. Nasal endoscopy and the definition and diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002; 126(6):623-627.
  9. Wallace DV, Dykewicz MS, Bernstein DI, et al; Joint Task Force on Practice; American Academy of Allergy; Asthma & Immunology; American College of Allergy; Asthma and Immunology; Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008; 122(2 Suppl):S1-S84.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. American Rhinologic Society (ARS). Nasal Endoscopy. Revised February 17, 2015. Available at: Accessed on August 21, 2018.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Nasal Endoscopy. Reviewed on August 14, 2018. Available at: Accessed on August 21, 2018.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Sinusitis. Reviewed on August 14, 2018. Available at: Accessed on August 21, 2018.


The use of specific product names is illustrative only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available.







Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Updated References.



MPTAC review. The document header wording updated from “Current Effective Date” to “Publish Date.” Updated Discussion and References sections.



MPTAC review. Clinical Indications revised to include medically necessary examples for facial pain suggestive of rhinogenic origin, recurrent or single severe posterior nasal epistaxis and endoscopically guided cultures. Updated Description, Discussion and References sections.



MPTAC review. Initial document development.