Referral to emergency

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • severe/persistent epistaxis
  • foreign body for example button batteries **urgent review**
  • trauma
  • periorbital cellulitis
    • with or without swelling
    • with or without sinusitis
  • septal haematoma
    • usually subsequent to trauma
    • often indicated by intense nasal pain and obstruction

Please contact the on-call registrar to discuss your concerns prior to referral.

For clinical advice, please telephone the relevant metropolitan Local Health Network switchboard and ask to speak to the relevant specialty service.

If clinical advice is required urgently or out of hours, please contact Flinders Medical Centre or the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network

Women's and Children's Health Network

Category 1 (appointment clinically indicated within 30 days)

  • suspected malignancy with epistaxis symptoms may include:
    • facial deformity/pain
    • proptosis (bulging eyeballs)
    • visual change

Category 2 (appointment clinically indicated within 90 days)

  • juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma (JNA) - especially for posterior bleeding
  • unilateral epistaxis in adolescent male

Category 3 (appointment clinically indicated within 365 days)

  • epistaxis with any of the following:
  • recurrent symptoms
  • unresponsive to first-line management (6 to 8 weeks)

For information on referral forms and how to import them, please view general referral information.

Essential referral information

Completion required before first appointment to ensure patients are ready for care. Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.

  • identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander  
  • identify within your referral if you feel your patient is from a vulnerable population, under guardianship/out-of-home care arrangements and/or requires a third party to receive correspondence on their behalf
  • interpreter required
  • age
  • past medical/surgical/family history specifically of bleeding disorder
  • onset, duration, and progression of symptoms including:
    • unilateral or bilateral bleeding
    • anterior or posterior bleeding
  • management history including treatments trialled or implemented
  • nasopharyngeal/sinus examination
  • if suspected bleeding disorder:
    • complete blood examination (CBE)
    • prothrombin time (PT)
    • activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT)
    • Von Willebrand screening (vWF)
  • relevant diagnostic/imaging reports including location of company and accession number

Additional information to assist triage categorisation

  • paranasal sinus high-resolution computed tomography (CT) – suspected juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma (JNA)

Clinical management advice

Epistaxis in children is usually from Little's area, which is on the septal wall anteriorly. The bleeding is usually venous, is of brief duration and is often recurrent. The two most important factors in childhood epistaxis are:

  • minor trauma - from nose picking, rubbing, sneezing, coughing or straining
  • friable nasal mucosa - from upper respiratory tract infection, drying of mucosa, intranasal steroids

Rarer causes include foreign bodies, nasal polyps, bleeding diatheses, vascular malformations, and nasopharyngeal tumours.

Refer to Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Clinical Guidelines for management options.

Please utilise the relevant Aboriginal Liaison Units (ALU) to provide support to Aboriginal families.

Clinical resources

Consumer resources