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Concha bullosa occurs when the middle turbinate, a small bone projection in the nasal cavity, experiences an air pocket. Depending on the severity, concha bullosa may either be accompanied by several symptoms or, in some cases, it can be asymptomatic. Treatment of this condition may vary and is generally based on the discomfort felt by the patient. Most cases are associated with a deviated nasal septum and are usually discovered in a computerized tomography (CT) exam. The three types of concha bullosa are lamellar, bulbous, and extensive, and are not usually considered a medical hazard.
The nasal cavity consists of three turbinates, or fine hairs, that act as a fliter for pollutants, as well as a bone and cartilage divider called the septum. Turbinates work to cool or warm the air inhaled through the nose in order to reach body temperature through humidification. Concha bullosa is a small balloon-like formation on a turbinate and, depending on the size, it may cause trouble with breathing or draining sinuses. It is an open space that is vulnerable to infection and nasal obstruction. This air bubble usually causes the turbinate to enlarge and apply pressure to other nasal components, which may cause pain.
Those who experience symptoms usually feel a pain between the eyes, nasal discomfort, and facial pressure if the concha bullosa is large in size. A CT exam is used after other potential problems are ruled out. Nasal sprays and decongestants may reduce problems associated with concha bullosa but if pain persists, a CT and minor surgery may be necessary.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is used to correct severe cases of concha bullosa, and is a minor surgery which normally takes a few hours. Surgeons use a fiberoptic endoscope to examine and correct dysfunctions of the naval cavity. Patients are sometimes sedated with a local anesthesia and, following the surgery, the corrected area is lightly filled with sterile packing. Post surgery discomfort is usually mild, but inflammation of the area may take a few weeks to subside.
Surgeons may request that the patient refrain from swimming or other activities that may cause an abundance of fluids in the nose, including taking precaution when bathing. The nasal cavity is a sensitive area to have surgery on, and it may produce some post-surgical problems including bleeding, infection, and temporary vision difficulties. Infections and other topical discomfort is usually treated with anti-biotic ointments, oral steroids, and antihistamines.