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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.