Nasal Anatomy & Turbinate Conditions
The exterior of the nose begins at the spot between the eyes (known as the root), where the nose projects forward from the skull. Underneath, the nasal cartilage begins at the nasal bone, supporting the span from the bridge of the nose to the tip (the apex). The flared surfaces on each side of the nose that surround the nostril are called the alae. The nasal septum supports the flesh between the nostrils, and the indentation that runs from between the nostrils to the upper lip is called the philtrum. Inside, the outermost part of the two-sided nasal airway is called the nasal valve. Just upstream on each side are the nasal turbinates.
Stuffy Nose - The sensation of stuffy nose, often described in medical terms as nasal obstruction, can have a variety of causes, from the temporary, such as congestion due to a cold or allergies, to more persistent obstruction caused by swelling of the turbinates, or by a malformation of the airway.
Hypertrophic Turbinates - When they become enlarged, the turbinates, particularly the lowest, or inferior turbinate, can block nasal airflow.
Deviated Septum - The septum is a narrow structure of cartilage and bone, lined with mucosal tissue like the turbinates, that forms the wall between the right and left nasal airways. The septum can be displaced to one side from birth, or because of injury. The result is that one nasal passage is narrower than the other, which causes obstruction and can lead to swollen turbinates due to the imbalance in air flow.
Allergic Rhinitis and Hay Fever - Rhinitis is the medical term for inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. One cause of rhinitis is allergic reaction to inhaled substances, for example, dust, pollen or pet dander. In some cases, an allergy to food can cause swollen airways.
Non-allergic (vasomotor) Rhinitis - Vasomotor rhinitis is swelling of the airway that is not caused by allergy. It can be triggered by exposure to environmental irritants, dry air, medications, or even intense emotion
Nasal Valve Collapse - The nasal valve is the section of the airway located just beyond the nostrils. If the fleshy tunnels that form the airway are narrow or overly flexible, they can collapse inward as you inhale. Sometimes visible from the outside, nasal valve collapse restricts the flow of air, causing the stuffy nose sensation.
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.
Turbinate Reduction Treatment: What to Expect
One of the most advanced new surgical approaches, COBLATION turbinate reduction is being offered as a doctor’s office procedure, meaning less down time, no general anesthesia, and lower cost than with a hospital stay. COBLATION technology combines low-temperature radio frequency energy with saline to create a plasma field, which is contained at the tip of the device; it dissolves tissues at the molecular level, resulting in a precise dissection of targeted tissue.
Normal vs Enlarged Turbinate