Turbinate surgery, also known as an Inferior Turbinate Reduction :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Turbinate Surgery

What is turbinate surgery?

Turbinate surgery, or inferior turbinate reduction, is a procedure where the inferior nasal turbinates are examined and reduced in size to provide improved nasal airflow. Surgery is typically performed through the nostrils on both sides of the nose.

This procedure is typically performed in an operating room under general anesthesia. Sometimes this procedure is performed in conjunction with other procedures to improve nasal breathing (ie: sinus surgery, nasal endoscopy, nasal cautery or septoplasty).

Why would my child need turbinate surgery?

Typically, children benefit from turbinate surgery when they have difficulty breathing through the nose. It can also cause snoring, difficulty sleeping, and nosebleeds (epistaxis) because of turbulent airflow. This can result in drying (dessication) of the mucous membranes lining the nose. Sense of smell can also be affected.

Turbinate surgery would be recommended after oral and topical medication, allergy therapy and avoidance of irritants have not provided sufficient relief.

What should I expect on the day of the procedure?

The child’s procedure takes place in an operating room. The procedure usually takes 20-30 minutes, but can take much longer depending on the severity and any other additional combined procedures planned. The surgeon provides an idea of how much time is expected, but this may change during the procedure.

Before and after surgery: a pediatric nurse prepares the child for surgery, assists the pediatric ENT surgeon during surgery, and cares for the child after the procedure.

Anesthesiology: The child is placed under general anesthesia by a pediatric anesthesiologist. At Nationwide Children’s, subspecialty-trained pediatric anesthesiologists regularly provide pediatric anesthesiology services for patients undergoing surgical procedures. It is important that the parent meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure.

Surgery: A pediatric ENT surgeon may use specialized telescopes to systematically evaluate the nasal airway in conjunction with specialized nasal instruments. If additional procedures are needed, additional special instruments may be used to perform these procedures.

What should I expect after my child has turbinate surgery?

After Surgery: The surgeon may feel it is safe for the child to go home after the procedure, or may recommend that he/she be observed at the hospital for a period of time afterward. The surgeon discusses the postoperative plan with the parent after the procedure. Follow up plans are discussed as well.

The child may be more sleepy than usual. Some additional nasal obstruction is normal after surgery. There are sometimes small plastic splints placed in the nose after surgery, to help with healing (usually only if performed in conjunction with other procedures). These are usually left in place for 1-7 days. Some minor nosebleeds or nasal drainage is normal after the surgery.

A slightly increased temperature after anesthesia is normal. The child should be encouraged to drink plenty of liquids after the procedure. The surgeon will discuss when he/she should return to a normal diet.

Tylenol or ibuprofen is typically appropriate for pain control. Sometimes stronger narcotic pain medications may be prescribed for additional pain control.

If the child develops any concerning symptoms after surgery, including pauses in breathing, color change of the skin (particularly if the lips, face, or hands are turning blue), appearing lethargic or tired, severe bleeding or any other sudden change from his/ her normal behavior, please seek immediate medical attention.

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