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Definition

Outfracture of turbinates is a procedure to break and shift the bony structures (turbinates) that line the inside wall of the nose.

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Reasons for Procedure

The job of the turbinates is to filter, moisten, and heat air as it enters the nose. Sometimes they can become enlarge. This can make it hard to breathe through the nose. This surgery is done to open the airway to:

  • Relieve blockage in the nasal passages
  • Improve breathing through the nose by increasing air flow and moisture
  • Reduce postnasal drip and excess drainage

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Numbness in the teeth or nose
  • Perforated septum
  • Changes in smell, taste, or vision
  • The need for more procedures
  • Toxic shock syndrome (rare)
  • Meningitis (rare)

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery

Anesthesia

The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

A thin tube with a camera will be passed into the nose. It will allow the doctor to see inside it. Small tools will be used to break the small bones. They will be pushed up to the side wall, away from the passageway.

Soft tissue may also be thinned-out around the area. Bleeding can be stopped using special tools, stitches, or packing.

How Long Will It Take?

1 to 2 hours

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Right after the procedure, the staff may give you:

  • Pain medicine
  • A decongestant

At Home

It will take about a week for swelling to go away. Some activities will be limited, such as heavy lifting or straining. You may need to delay your return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • An increase in bleeding or discharge
  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Vision problems

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
http://entnet.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
http://entcanada.org

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

REFERENCES:

Atopic rhinitis and related disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/atrophic-rhinitis-and-related-disorders. Accessed August 20, 2021.

Turbinate reduction. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/sinus/surgical_procedures/turbinate_reduction.html. Accessed August 20, 2021.

Turbinate surgery. Mount Sinai website. Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/surgery/turbinate-surgery. Accessed August 20, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 8/20/2021