Nasal cautery is usually performed in clinic at time of attendance to stop nose bleeds. Cotton wool soaked in local anaesthetic is placed in the nose to numb the nose. Any visible blood vessels are then destroyed using a silver nitrate stick that causes a chemical burn sealing the vessel. it can be a little uncomfortable and sting during and for a short time after the procedure. The silver nitrate stick looks a bit like a long matchstick. The procedure takes less than a minute usually.
If the child is not able to have this done or it has been done but wasn't successful then the procedure may be performed under a general anaesthetic on another day in theatre- this allows a more thorough assessment and treatment.
Risks of nasal cautery
The procedure sometimes does not work and has to be repeated or performed under general anaesthetic
There is a small risk if both sides of the nose have been treated at the same time of interfering with the blood supply to such an extent that a small hole between the two sides of the nose occurs on the inside of the nose - this is rare event. If it were to occur then surgery can fix the hole although this is quite a difficult operation
If the nose runs after the procedure the silver nitrate can run onto the lip and cause staining of the upper lip- this is not permanent
The procedure itself can cause bleeding which in rare cases may result in the nose having to be packed
Crusting inside occurs after the procedure- it is important to keep the nose greasy inside to stop the crusting/scab drying out- ointment is routinely prescribed after the procedure and should be used as directed.