What is a Turbinectomy?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A turbinectomy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to help alleviate chronic nasal congestion. The procedure may be performed in conjunction with other types of surgery such as a septoplasty, or as a stand-alone remedy. There are several different strategies for this procedure, with each of them useful in different situations.

Removal of the turbinate bone is a common form of turbinectomy.
Removal of the turbinate bone is a common form of turbinectomy.

There are several reasons why a turbinectomy may be recommended. Patients who suffer with constant nasal inflammation or frequent swelling of the adenoids are good candidates for this type of operation. If a deviated nasal septum is present, an inferior turbinectomy may help. Should there be tumors or other growths present in the nasal passages, this type of surgery can often bring about some relief.

A turbinectomy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to help alleviate chronic nasal congestion.
A turbinectomy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to help alleviate chronic nasal congestion.

With patients suffering from sleep apnea, a turbinectomy can often make it easier to fall into a deep sleep and remain in that state long enough to feel refreshed upon waking. In like manner, the procedure can help to minimize snoring. However, undergoing this type of surgery for these health issues is usually not recommended until less invasive measures have been tried and proved unsuccessful.

Patients who experience frequent swelling of the adenoids may benefit from a turbinectomy.
Patients who experience frequent swelling of the adenoids may benefit from a turbinectomy.

The most common form of turbinectomy involves the partial or complete removal of the bone known as the turbinate. This bone is an extension of the ethmoid bone and is found along the side of the nose. The turbinate is protected by a thin mucous membrane. Referred to as a submucous turbinectomy, this approach is especially helpful when the patient experiences frequent problems with sneezing and nasal discharge. People with allergies sometimes find a degree of relief after undergoing this type of operation.

A turbinectomy can help reduce snoring.
A turbinectomy can help reduce snoring.

Other forms of turbinectomy also include the removal of the mucous membrane. However, this is usually not recommended, as there are several undesirable side effects. Patients often develop a dry crusty film on the interior of the nose, which can lead to pain and soreness. If all the turbinate and the membrane are removed, there are also no receptors remaining to alert the brain to the presence of airflow through the passages. As a result, the patient perceives that there is still a blockage present, and suffers in a manner similar to when there was swelling or a foreign body interfering with the flow of air through the nostrils.

A turbinectomy may relieve nighttime headaches and other symptoms caused by sleep apnea.
A turbinectomy may relieve nighttime headaches and other symptoms caused by sleep apnea.

Laser turbinectomy has become possible in recent years. This approach makes it possible to cauterize the incisions left by the surgery, which in turn minimizes the chances for infection to develop. The patient can often achieve full recovery in a shorter period of time, making it much easier to assess the final outcome of the procedure.

Issues with the turbinates can cause nasal obstructions that do not respond to typical treatments such as irrigation or blowing.
Issues with the turbinates can cause nasal obstructions that do not respond to typical treatments such as irrigation or blowing.
A turbinectomy can make it easier for patients to fall into a deep sleep.
A turbinectomy can make it easier for patients to fall into a deep sleep.
A turbinectomy may be useful in treating cases of nasal congestion for which nasal sprays have proven ineffective.
A turbinectomy may be useful in treating cases of nasal congestion for which nasal sprays have proven ineffective.
Sleep apnea occurs when an individual temporarily stops breathing while sleeping.
Sleep apnea occurs when an individual temporarily stops breathing while sleeping.
A person may attempt to alleviate nasal congestion by using facial massage prior to undergoing a turbinectomy.
A person may attempt to alleviate nasal congestion by using facial massage prior to undergoing a turbinectomy.
People who suffer with constant nasal inflammation may undergo a turbinectomy.
People who suffer with constant nasal inflammation may undergo a turbinectomy.
The doctor should offer a list of instructions to reduce postoperative bleeding after a turbinate resection.
The doctor should offer a list of instructions to reduce postoperative bleeding after a turbinate resection.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

burcinc

@MikeMason-- Nasal surgery is the last treatment option for nasal inflammation and congestion. If you've tried allergy medications and anti-inflammatory medications like steroids without any improvement, then your doctor may suggest surgery.

Why don't you ask your doctor if you can speak to one of his patients who underwent a turbinectomy with him? Getting feedback about the doctor's skills and the recovery and aftermath of the surgery will help you decide.

If your doctor is experienced and has good feedback from his patients and if your condition is bad enough to require a turbinectomy, then I wouldn't be scared about it.

turquoise

@MikeMason-- I don't know why nasal turbinectomy and septoplasty surgeries have such a bad reputation. I had both of these done on the same day three years ago and it was life-changing for me. Prior to the surgery, I couldn't breathe at all and had so many issues because of that like lack of concentration and chronic dizziness.

I didn't have any complications from the surgery. Of course I had some breathing and bleeding issues for a few weeks afterward during recover but that's normal. I'm glad I had the surgery done.

stoneMason

My doctor wants to do septoplasty and turbinectomy surgery to treat my chronic inflammation. As much as I want a permanent solution to my congestion, I don't think I'm ready for surgery. Plus, I've heard some very bad things about the surgery. It is said to cause many problems afterward.

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