Reduction of Sinus Turbinates Preparing for Surgery

Published: 03rd March 2010
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Within the nose are bony projections that promote the air-filtration and air-conditioning functions of the upper respiratory tract, called sinus turbinates. These protrude to enhance the surface area of the nose as well as to keep the nasal cavity moist and the air that goes directly to the lungs humid.

Why the Need for Sinus Turbinate Reduction
Occasionally, these sinus turbinates become enlarged, particularly the middle and the inferior turbinates, due to concha bullosa, invading air cells, or because of the development of some abnormalities in the tubinates' structure. Nasal polyps and severe forms of sinusitis like ethmoid sinusitis can also cause the sinus turbinates to enlarge. Since most of the mucus drainage occurs around the area near the turbinates, any abnormality of these compromise the sinuses as well as worsens any existing sinus problems. Surgical intervention is often required to correct these problems.

Reduction of sinus turbinates is a procedure that is often recommended for patients whose turbinates are enlarged. This procedure aims to restore the health of the turbinates, thereby preventing breathing obstruction, nasal congestion, sleep apnea, post-nasal drip, sinus problems, and other symptoms commonly associated with the diseases of the upper respiratory tract.

Candidacy for Turbinate Reduction Surgery
In the majority of cases, enlargement of the sinus turbinates does not necessitate surgical intervention. The sinus turbinates are important structures in the nose which cannot be simply removed for minor reasons. Unless there is a compelling reason for removal (e.g. your symptoms do not subside with medical treatment), your physician will not advise you to undergo this surgery. And even if he does, he will most likely recommend minimal surgical removal of the turbinate, but only after thorough evaluation of your medical history, health conditions, and of course, your need for the surgery.

Prior to the surgery, either your doctor or your nurse will provide explicit instructions to ensure that the procedure will go as planned. He may advise you to refrain from taking products which contain Aspirin and Ibuprofen a week before the surgery. If you are taking medications for diabetes, heart problems, blood pressure or asthma, be advised to check with your doctor for special instructions on taking medications for these conditions a few hours before the procedure.

What to Expect for the Surgery
Surgery for sinus turbinates is generally short - ranging anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. As the patient, you will be presented with two options - you can either have an office procedure wherein you will be administered with local anesthesia, or in an outpatient setting where you will receive a combination of local anesthesia and sedation.

The surgery itself is not that complicated. The surgeon will be using an endoscope which will be inserted into your nose to help the surgeon see its inner structures. A small incision will then be made in the lining of the enlarged or infected turbinate. Depending on your condition, a small or large portion of your sinus turbinate will be removed. This will reduce the thickness in your nasal cavity and free up some space to promote easier breathing. Radiofrequency will then be applied to stop the bleeding.

After your surgeon determines that you are ready to go home, you will receive instructions regarding post-op care to guarantee that complications are prevented.

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