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What Is a Nasal Concha?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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A nasal concha is one of the curved bones that make up the upper portion of the nasal cavity. There are several different conchae in the nose, such as the inferior concha, medial concha and superior concha. Each concha is covered with a mucous membrane, and the scroll-shaped bones increase the surface area of the nasal cavities, aiding quick heating of the air as it passes through into the lungs. The nasal concha bones are also referred to as turbinate bones.

There are three nasal concha on each side of the nasal cavity, and their curved ends poke into the cavity from the outer walls. The inferior conchae are the larger bones, and the superior and medial conchae are smaller. These smaller nasal conchae are actually extensions of the ethmoid bone, which separates the nasal cavity from the brain. The inferior conchae are connected to the maxilla bone.

Each nasal concha stretches horizontally across the nasal passageway. The inferior nasal conchae are the lowest in position, then come the medial conchae, followed by the superior conchae toward the top of the nasal cavity. The concha have meatuses, which are essentially small grooves separating them from one another.

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When air is breathed in through the nose, it passes over and under the various nasal conchae. Their curved shape is useful because there is room for more respiratory mucus, a vital component in preparing air for the lungs. As the air passes through each of the concha, it is conditioned by the mucus to be suitable for the lungs. Any contaminants such as dust mites, smoke, ash or pollen get caught up in the mucus and are thus prevented from causing problems within the body.

The inferior nasal concha connects to four bones inside the body: the ethmoid, maxilla, lacrimal and palatine bones. It is comprised of a convex and concave side, referred to as the medial and lateral surfaces, respectively. The upper edge of the inferior concha has an uneven, irregular shape, with connections to the other bones sprouting up from it. The lower edge has a more uniformed, curved shape. The nasal conchae are made from a spongy bone and are formed during the fifth month of pregnancy.

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