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.
The term “hypertrophic” means that either the tissue lining the turbinates is swollen, or the bones themselves are enlarged enough to cause obstruction of the nasal airways.
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.
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.
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.
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 Technology.
A COBLATION◊ technology turbinate reduction is the use of a COBLATION wand to reduce the size of hypertrophic nasal turbinates.