Inferior Turbinectomy
Inferior Turbinectomy

Turbinectomy Surgery

There are three pairs of turbinates (inferior, middle, and superior) on the lateral walls of the nasal cavity inside the nose. These scroll-like, spongy bones divide the nasal airway into four groove-like passages. Their job is to clean and humidify the air as it moves through your nose into your lungs.

The inferior turbinate runs the length of the nasal airway and is about the size of your finger. It provides surface area of mucous membrane to humidify the air as it passes through and to collect dust and dirt on its surface. When the inferior turbinates become enlarged due to a condition such as environmental allergies, it causes nasal obstruction. The nasal blockage can be improved by reducing the size of the inferior turbinates and thereby decreasing airway resistance.

Some patients don’t respond favorably to medications intended to reduce the size and activity of the turbinates. In these patients, who have what is termed ‘refractory symptoms’ of turbinate hypertrophy (enlargement), surgery may help provide them more long-term relief.

Two of the primary surgical ways to reduce the inferior turbinate are:


A procedure in which some or all of the turbinate bones attached to mucous membranes in the nasal passages are removed.

Inferior Turbinate Reduction

Procedure that targets the mucosal component, rather than the bone, and shrinks the turbinate by reducing the soft tissue.

Who is a candidates for inferior turbinate reduction or a turbinectomy?

Turbinate surgery is considered only after less-invasive treatments, such as nasal sprays, steroids, and other medication, prove ineffective at relieving breathing problems.

People who are good candidates include those with:

  • Swelling of the turbinate due to allergy, chronic inflammation or chronic sinusitis
  • Frequent swelling of the adenoids
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tumors or nasal polyps present in the nasal passages

Our Approach

The traditional approach to surgically treating the inferior turbinate was to either cut them off or burn them externally. By basically amputating the structure, airflow was improved. The problem with over resection of the turbinate is a resultant condition known as empty nose syndrome.

In empty nose syndrome, the nose is in a chronic state of dryness (lack of mucus/moisture production) and incapable of streamlining, sensing (motion and temperature wise) and processing the inhaled air in a satisfactory manner.

Symptoms include

  • Chronic dryness of the nose and pharynx
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusing sensations of too much air entering your nose and pharynx, yet at the same time feeling you need more nasal resistance to breathe-in satisfactorily
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A generally depressed and irritated mood

We believe that turbinates have a vital function and it is our goal not to remove them, but rather to stop them from causing the problems.

Our surgery is focused on the tissues between the bone and the lining and we are able to preserve both, for the most part. This under-the-lining reduction or removal of tissue achieves the goal of greater nasal passage openings without the side effect of empty nose syndrome.

Inferior turbinate reduction is only a single component of the medical management program we use to address sinus issues. Our belief is that you can rely on surgery to give us the architecture, but you still have to clean the house. That is why we establish an ongoing plan that you participate in to effectively and continuously control your sinus situation.