This is an image of the Caldwell_Luc surgery.

This is the surgery that was done to me on October 30, 2007 by an ENT whom I was seeing for tinnitus–ear ringing. It was done on both the left and right sides of my face. I was not told this was going to be done.

The pre-surgery MRI and CT reports note no polyps or any disease on the right side of my face, except for “a small ovoid soft tissue mass…in the right ethmoid air cells…” and “mild mucosal thickening…in the right maxillary sinus”—noted in the CT report. I had never seen any doctor for any nasal or sinus issue.

After the surgery, I was desperately ill. I had acinetobacter infection in my sinuses. I had never before had a sinus infection in 55 years of life. Acinetobacter is an antibiotic-resistant, hospital-acquired infection to which only very ill patients are susceptible.

My sinus mucosa had been ripped out. I was raw and infected. My inferior turbinates had been removed and I was smothering every minute of every day due to the condition Empty Nose Syndrome.

“Before surgery on an inferior turbinate is undertaken, a trial of medical management is mandatory.”…-a098248242

“When taken to its extreme, the sequela of this lack of respiratory mucosa leads to a nasal cripple.”

I presented to otolaryngologist, Dr. F., at a large medical center in my city six weeks after the surgery. I was in agony, shaking and sobbing, gasping for breath. I was given antibiotics, but the infection was not cultured until I returned in much worse condition 5 weeks later. In fact, I was not cultured then, either. Dr. F had me finish a second round of the wrong antibiotic first, telling me that he could not squeeze me in for a culture until the following week. Obviously, he could have cultured the infection right then and there in his office.

I recently acquired this record from my first appointment with Dr. F: “The patient is status post sinus surgery on October 30, 2007, and presents with continued symptoms. The risks and benefits of the procedure were explained in detail and she elected to proceed.”

How likely is it that a patient with no nasal or sinus history elected to proceed with that?

On the Patient History form I filled out on the day of my first appointment with the ENT who did this surgery, I reported visual, cardiovascular, bladder, and immunologic symptoms due to a “CO exposure.” I also reported a long history of immunologic problems. Under “Respiratory, asthma, emphysema, lung,” I reported “none.” There is no other heading under which to report nasal or sinus problems and none are reported. On a separate page for reporting ear problems, I report “tinnitus.” This also is the only word on the referral form from my GP–tinnitus.

“Surgery is reserved for confirmed chronic sinusitis, per history, physical and CT as well as those who have not responded to medical therapy.”

I took a letter to Dr. F from my GP: “She has never had a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis. She had never been seen here for any sinus problems prior to November 2007.” Dr. F would not take the letter from my hand.

“The Caldwell-Luc operation was first described in the late 1890’s.”

“The main complications associated with the Caldwell-Luc procedure include oroantral fistula (breakdown of the gum incision with communication between the mouth and sinus), rare osteomyelitis, infraorbital nerve injury with associated hypesthesia, injury to the tooth roots and tooth discoloration. When the mucous membrane of the antrum is totally removed, the sinus eventually regenerates nonciliated epithelium. It is unable to clear mucus as a normal ciliated sinus would. It is common for mucoid pus to occur postoperatively as the sinus is no longer able to clear itself of bacteria and mucus.”

‘The Caldwell Luc operation is also carried out on the maxillary sinus. It is more radical than the intranasal antrostomy. The sinus is opened by through a cut between the gum and the upper lip, above the canine tooth. A hole is chiselled or drilled through the cheek bone. The lining of the sinus is scraped out. A large intranasal antrostomy is also made. The Caldwell Luc operation was done for almost 100 years, and can give good results for severe chronic maxillary sinusitis. It can cause severe interference with nerves to the teeth and face. One third of patients having Caldwell Luc surgery will have permanent numbness. Many will have painful sensitive nerve endings in the teeth or face. Caldwell Luc surgery is rarely done nowadays, but still has its place occasionally.”

According to Peterson’s Principles Of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 1, page 307, published in 2004, the Caldwell-Luc is referred to as “obsolete”: Google Book Link.

Two and a half years after the surgery, my face is caving in on the right, the side for which pre-op scans showed no sinus disease. I have been in unbearable pain for the past six months. My teeth are crashing together. I am unable to access appropriate medical care due to patient blacklisting.

~ by ens3 on June 13, 2010.

26 Responses to “Caldwell-Luc”

  1. How are you doing now? I am scheduled for this surgery in 3 days and now terrified. I just had surgery 2 months ago in my upper jaw to remove a tumor that started in maxilla and reached my sinus. Now ct scan shows complete Gray in the sinus and they want to go in and clean out the diseased tissue. After reading all of this I am terrified. It is being done by my oral surgeon.

    • I had Cauldwell Luc surgery in July 2013 and I am still in pain because the ENT doctor who did the surgery caused me to have trigeminal neuralgia. I had a sinus infection and the antibiotics were not strong enough so instead of trying another antibiotic he told me I needed surgery. He should have done this by a laproscopic procedure rather than a radical Cauldwell luc surgery which was absolute after 2004 by the way. If you read my notes above you will see that I was in tremendous pain as I got an infection in the surgical incision and Dr. F— did not give me antibiotics for this until 4 weeks later. I also got an oroantral fistula from the Cauldwell luc which was very painful, and it cost me a lot of money to get an implant where my front tooth was. I was working as a hair dresser and had to go to work every day with this pain. I am going to a different Ent doctor next week to see if there is some thing that can be done as the Neurontin I have been taking for the pain barely works any more. He’ll probably send me for a CT and maybe to a neurosurgeon.

      I believe that some doctors are just money hungry, and it’s a shame. Good luck with your surgery. Let me know how it goes. I did not have an oral surgeon, I had an ENT Dr.

  2. I found out on September 26, 2017 that I had an oral antral fistula. After being in pain the whole weekend with a lump that had appeared above my second to front tooth I made a dentist appt. to have it looked at. I was x-rayed and put on antibiotics for the infection and told to see a periodontist. I did, and was told my roots of that tooth were too short, probably cut from cauldwell luc surgery of which i got an infection in the incision and have nerve damage and daily pain. The dentist told me he could not do another root canal which I paid for with a crown and post as well years ago. He told me it might have to be pulled. So I went to another periodontist that took my then dental coverage. After being put on antibiotics 3 times for reocurring infections I finally got the tooth pulled. My insurance paid very little, so I got additional coverage in Nov. which would be effective Jan.1, 2018. I was in so much pain that I could not wait that long and kept getting infections that could only be alleviated except by extraction.The dentist told me I had a hole in the bone in my jaw from the fistula and infections so he had to do a bone graft which was very painful. This cost me out of pocket $1,800, more pain. Then I had to wait 3 months to heal for the next process that cost me an additional $1,750. and I have to return in 4 to 5 months for the rest of the process which cost an additional $875. I researched this fistula and learned that it is caused from trauma either from a removed tooth or the sinus surgery the ENT DR. did on me. Well I had a perfectly good tooth that I had to have pulled and I can’t walk around with a front tooth missing, it is unsightly and very hard to chew. I am Marie Soquet and you can read my post above about the cauldwell luc surgery this butcher did on me. This has been a horrible experience. If I could sue him I would. I have contacted the health board in Sept. about my sinus surgery and the fistula. I was recently told he would be subpeoned for my medical records and would have to attain a lawyer. I lost plenty of sleep over this and hope he does too!

    • I am so sorry, Marie. I, too, have had endless dental problems over the past 11 years, tooth extractions, dental implants, and am now back to chronic pain due to missing bone and my tooth roots being in my sinus cavities, as a result of the totally unnecessary, destructive Caldwell-Luc I was given in 2007. I was unable to sue due to medical blacklisting and the doctors I saw banding together in a very corrupt way. I chose not to file a complaint with the medical board as, in my state, no patient complaint had ever resulted in a finding against a doctor. I opted to follow the best course that might lead to an end to my medical blacklisting. The blacklisting is still in full swing 11 years later, so you might as well fight the system. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I wish a successful outcome for you.

  3. This procedure sounds like a scam to extract not only the sinus cavity, but for money- just like things are made to not last for long, in order for constant income, it would seem the same can be explained for the medical practice, whereby patients are given unnecessary procedures, to keep them coming back for the medication afterwards and other following unnecessary treatments that all cost MONEY. the whole world is on the make, and so a dental practice, hospital, etc is not rendered (obsolete) in the process and the practitioners keep that money coming in.

    • Yes, after the ENT surgeon destroyed my life, I was talking to him on the phone some–I would say 6 weeks alter–and he said, “Soon, we will start you on premarin (this is for atrophic rhinitis) but not yet.” He said it so casually as if this had been the goal all along: Destroy nose, treat with premarin for duration of life.

  4. […] For years, following the sinus surgery, I suffered sinus, respiratory and eye infections, facial pain, tooth pain and loss and facial collapse. You may want to read and…ng-into-my-teeth/. I had never had a sinus infection, in my 55 years of life, until immediately following the unnecessary, barbaric sinus surgery performed on me October 30, 2007. I woke up from the surgery with a deadly aceinetobacter infection. I had not seen the ENT for sinus issues. I had seen him for ear-ringing, and he had performed the most invasive sinus surgery, considered last resort, and also obsolete. He removed a large amount of bone from my nose and face. […]

  5. I had this procedure done almost two months ago to remove a periapical cyst that ate through my maxillary bone into my sinus. It was removed once before in my oral surgeon’s office, however, it regrew. My ENT opted to do this procedure in order to do a more thorough second removal. My lip, gums, and teeth on that side are still numb/tingly, but the sensation is trying to return. Occasionally, I can feel shooting pains from the incision site up the side of my face. The pain is manageable without pain medicine (mostly), but some days the ache is so horrible I don’t want to leave my bed. My doctor said the numbness could persist for up to 6 months or even be permanent.

  6. i also had a caldwell luc proceedure in 2009,for chronic sinusitis, now i am left with nerve pain numbness and the area constantly feels like a new injury even 5 yrs later. Days to weeks after my surgery the Doctor would not return my phone calls. when i made a follow up appt. either he was booked out 2 months or they would call and cancel my appt last minute.
    That doctor was wrong to do this proceedure. Edina Minnesota

    • Edina, That is what they do. They ignore you. You are an inconvenient patient because you have been injured. I am so sorry this happened to you.

      It is doubtful there was any good reason to do this horrible “surgery” to you.

    • I am supposed to have this surgery in 4 weeks. Abbott , MN do I need to be worried? Is this not a common surgery? Can’t find a whole lot of info and sounds like it’s obsolete?

  7. I have done so many Caldwel Luc surgeries but never had patients coming back with any problems. I am really horrified to read the above reports.

    • According to Peterson’s Principles Of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 1, page 307, published in 2004, the Caldwell-Luc is referred to as “obsolete,” They are also considered a last resrt surgery for intractable sinus disease. Usually, this would only be for cancer or cystic fibrosis. However, I am glad your patients have not been harmed. And I am glad you are horrified. It is so very necessary for ENT surgeons to understand the suffering that can be and is being caused by ENT surgeries, especially turbinate reductions. I am aware of many lives of intolerable suffering as a result of them. I hope you will do more research and help to educate your colleagues.

  8. I had a cauld well luc done in July, 2013 and I’m still in terrible pain. I have had 4 previous sinus surgeries for polyps and back surgery, 3 c-sections, and had never experienced such pain or complications before. Two days after the surgery I got worse and then the weekend came so I called the on Monday only to wait hours to speak to his nurse. I told her about the swelling and teeth and facial pain and was told it was normal. I told her I was taking percocet and advil and the pain was waking me up every few hours. By the time I got to see this too busy Dr. he said it looked like I was starting an infection ,wow really, like 2 weks ago, and put me on bactrum. Well 6 days went by and I was no better, so I spoke to the pharmacist at Walgreens who told me I should have seen an improvement by now. Again my busy Dr. couldn’t see me for another week and called in a script for prednisone. I went to my dentist to see if it was one of th 6 teeth that were killing me and he said no. He also asked me how long the stitches had been in my mouth and I said 5 weeks. He told me the stitches should have melted weeks ago and now they were a foreign object in my mouth. He asked me for my Dr. phone number and his assistant called my Dr. and got me an appointment for the next morning and of course my Dr. said it was looking better. I would never go back to that practice and if there was any way to prove malpractice I would. I’m still in pain!

  9. hi – very saddened to hear your story. I have undergone a caldwell luc procedure too and since then have been suffering from constant sinus infections and pain in my gums. I have been to numerous doctors. I was treated with penicillin IV for a month because of infection but did not recover. Could you please tell me how a culture was obtained in your case for the sinusitis and which antibiotic was found to be sensitive. Wish you a quick recovery.

  10. I’m really sorry to say this but the author of this report must be an complete idiot; please read the quote: “This is the surgery that was done to me on October 30, 2007 by an ENT whom I was seeing for tinnitus–ear ringing. It was done on both the left and right sides of my face. I was not told this was going to be done.” After this one I would have my attorneys run after him and them and sue the hospital.

    • No, I am not a complete idiot. I spoke to about 300 attorney, only one of whom agreed to take the case. However, when the physician who treated the injuries refused to testify against the surgeon, he said we could not go forward. The medical malpractice climate is such that it is almost impossible to even get a case into court. Surgeons routinely get by with murder now.

  11. I am in the 1/3 with nerve pain. When I woke from the procedure immediately I had nerve pain. He ignored me until I took some of my dads neurontin and found relief. I am left with permanent nerve damage on the right side if my face. I take neurontin 4 xs a day, elavil once a day and celexa once a day since 2004. It gives me almost complete relief. If I get breakthrough pain I take Ativan. The regimen works for me. With this I am able to function in life and pain free. I hope uve found relief as well.

    • Janis, I am not on pain meds. I improved greatly when abscessed tooth roots below the Caldwell-Luc site were discovered and the 2 teeth were repaired. However, I am having pain and infection again now. Not sure why or how this will end up. I am glad to hear that you found a solution.

  12. Your story is unbelievable! Removing turbinates for tinnitus?? I too have had an inferior turbinate removed because I had a tumor in that area and the surgeon had to remove the turbinate…I get that..but the aftereffects were never explained to me by him! I am fortunate to have another ENT who GETS it and is helping me. Take care, I hope you are much better, but I know, we dont really get better with this problem.

    • It truly is unbelievable that this was done to me. And that no other doctors reported the crime to the medical board.

      By God’s grace, my condition has improved, but I will always be less than I was before.

      I hope the best for you, too.

  13. Please inform us how you are these day. Was your health restored? Did you get correct surgery?

    • I am much improved, but my health will always be compromised. I still have a dry nose and facial pain. I lost alot of teeth. The only surgery I had had is dental implants.

  14. Just as Samson’s strength was in his hair, the spirit of God is in our nostrils.

    • Jospeh, That is true. What these doctors do is a crime against creation. Your words of wisdom bring comfort to those of us who have suffered this assault to our very nature.

      • I have had five sinus surgery for the removal of sinus polyps. I just had the Caldwell Luc surgery 8 days ago. I am still numb in my upper right lip and no sensation in my teeth. The pain is at a minimum. I take one Adil if the pain is uncomfortable. I could do without it. I have my postoperative exam in 6 days from now. Will inform you of my results.

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