Nasal Turbinates and Turbinate Reduction


What are the nasal turbinates?

Located on the inside of the nose just upstream from the flare of the nostrils, the nasal turbinates are three pairs of long, thin bones and associated cartilage. The turbinates are lined with mucosal tissue that can expand or contract to help adjust the temperature, the moistness and the velocity of incoming air as we inhale.

What are hypertrophic turbinates?

This term means that the either the tissue lining the turbinates is swollen, or the bones themselves are enlarged enough to cause obstruction of the nasal airways.

What causes swollen turbinates?

In some people, the turbinates or their underlying structure (the nasal chonchae) are enlarged from birth. For many others, the turbinates become swollen because of allergy, bacterial or viral infection, exposure to environmental irritants like dust or chemicals, or altered air flow due to deviation elsewhere in the nasal airway.

How are swollen turbinates diagnosed?

An ear, nose & throat specialist (ENT), will ask questions about your medical history and conduct a physical exam that can include inspecting the airway with an endoscopic camera inserted through the nostril.

How are swollen turbinates treated?

If the cause of the hypertrophy is infection, allergy or environmental irritant, your doctor may recommend antibiotic for a bacterial infection, nasal decongestants or steroids to help reduce swelling, and a waiting period to see if the condition begins to improve. In persistent or chronic cases, your ENT specialist might recommend surgery to reduce the obstruction.

What surgeries are used in turbinate reduction?

There are several different approaches available, depending on the ENT's assessment of the problem. These include electrocauterization, radiofrequency reduction, microdebrider resection, partial resection and COBLATION.

What is a COBLATION Turbinate Reduction?

A COBLATION turbinate reduction is the use of a COBLATION wand to reduce the size of hypertrophic nasal turbinates.

The information listed on this site is for informational and educational purposes and is not meant as medical advice. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation.