Inferior turbinate reduction (Turbinectomy)

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Turbinates are elongated side cushion tissues in the nose that contain bone and are covered with glandular tissue which produce mucus. They can swell up a lot and block off your breathing passage. 

Turbinectomy is an operation designed to trim or remove these lower most “side cushions” on the sidewall of the nose to improve nasal patency – or to increase the ability to breathe freely through the nose. To ensure adequate removal, the operation is usually done under general anaesthesia. The operation is often combined with other procedures aimed at improving nasal breathing (e.g. Septoplasty). The front part of the turbinate is usually removed with a scissors and forceps. Nasal packing is usually applied to stop bleeding.

One night stay in hospital is usually required. The packing is removed the morning following surgery. The patient is usually discharged at about lunchtime or early afternoon. There are no black eyes, external incisions or change in nasal shape.

Complications of turbinectomy

  1. Bleeding or haemorrhage- this may result in a nosebleed that usually stops quickly. Bloodstained ooze may persist for a few days

  2. Infection-as with any surgery, infection may occur but this is not very common.

Expectations and advise following Turbinectomy surgery

  • You may awake with some packing in your nose to stop any bleeding. If present, this should be left alone and will be removed by your nurse, usually the following morning. You will be nursed with the head of the bed slightly elevated. It is probable that you will have to breathe through your mouth and thus get dry mouth

  • You may get a blood stained/ pinkish discharge for a few days. Serious nasal haemorrhage is rare and may occur up to 10 day post-operatively. A little fresh blood in your hanky is no cause for concern but if it starts dripping actively, you should:
    • ¨Sit down in a chair and relax (Do not lie down)
    • ¨Pinch the soft part of the nose firmly for 15 minutes
    • ¨Spit out any blood into a bowl placed in your lap
    • ¨Place an ice-pack (Or a bag of frozen peas etc) Over your forehead. Try sucking an ice-cube This reduces nasal blood flow.

  • If these measures do not stop the bleeding, and it continues unabated without any sign of slowing down after 30 minutes, you should attend your closest Accident and Emergency (Casualty) Department

  • Avoid all moderate and heavy physical activity, including sport for ten days after the operation. Avoid bending down to pick things up, especially heavy weights. Active sport should not be commenced for four weeks after the surgery, and even then, slowly at first with gradual build up

  • It is normal for your nose to be quite blocked for several days (even a couple of weeks) after the surgery, while all the internal swelling settles

  • Don’t expect immediate improvement

  • You must irrigate your nose frequently. This is called nasal douching. Douche at least 3 times a day starting on day 2 with the solution provided I.e. saline to clear away scabs and crusting which occurs after the operation. It will take approximately six weeks before the swelling and the crust caused by operation, inside the nose, to settle and you get the full benefit of the surgery

  • Only gently blow your nose after nasal irrigation, avoid heavy nasal blow for 10+ days after your operation

  • Do rest completely for one week

  • Avoid smoking, dusty, and dry atmospheres. Avoid, crowded places and people with cold/ flu

  • Avoid very hot baths and showers. Take these quite cool. It may lead to nasal haemorrhage

  • Do not drive for 48 hours (because of the effect of the general anaesthetic).

Please note that the details in this section are for general information only. You should always discuss the risks, limitations and complications of your specific operation with your surgeon.