Turbinate Treatment and Surgery

The nasal turbinates are structures within the nose that help direct airflow, humidify, moisten, and warm air. The turbinates produce mucus and filter dust and pollution. In some patients the turbinates enlarge and block airflow. Initial treatment for turbinate enlargement (turbinate hypertrophy) is medical. Allergy treatments such as antihistamine tablets or nasal steroid sprays are effective in most patients. Allergy shots are need in some patients. If these medical treatments are not sufficient, surgical treatment is considered.

Surgical intervention can consist of placing a small probe into the turbinate and applying a form of energy (radiofrequency or electrocautery) to shrink the mucus glands and blood vessels. This shrinks the turbinate, maximizing airflow and reduces excess mucus production, alleviating runny nose symptoms.

For more advanced hypertrophy, a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure called turbinoplasty is recommended. A portion of the turbinate tissue is removed, reducing the obstructive turbinate tissue and allowing more airflow.

Turbinate cautery has the benefit of less chance of bleeding, but sometimes requires a second or third application to provide long-lasting relief. Turbinate surgery has the benefit of providing long-lasting relief in a single procedure, but incurs slightly more bleeding risk and general anesthesia.

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