The nose is comprised of 2 nasal airways which lie side by side like 2 rooms with a common wall & 2 outer walls. The doorways into the rooms are analogous to the nostrils. The outer walls are made of bone & nasal lining(mucosa). Turbinates are baffles that extend from the outer walls of the right & left nasal cavities into the cavity or airway itself. They help to control air flow & humidify/warm inhaled air. They are composed of a core of bone (a shelf of bone protruding out of the wall) & are covered by mucosa. If the bone is too large &/or the mucosa swollen the airway will be blocked preventing air flow through that side of the nose. The sinus cavity on that side of the face may also be blocked so it can’t drain. This can cause sinusitis, sinus headaches, etc.. If the problem is intermittent i.e. comes & goes it most likely is due to swollen mucosa which swell on exposure to pollutants, pollens & other airborne irritants. If this is the problem avoidance of irritants & nasal drops/sprays should suffice. It is critical in the case of chronic sinusitis that an antrostomy (opening into the sinuses) be done. All too often patients will only have turbinate reduction done, and still be left with a diseased sinus, when they should have had more definitive procedures done.
If the problem is constant it is most likely due to excess bone & surgical debulking of the turbinate is required (Turbinectomy). The entire turbinate need not be removed & most of the mucosa should be spared to prevent a dry nose with bleeding etc. after surgery. A sheet of plastic is placed between the septum in the middle of the nose & the sidewall from which the turbinate has been debulked. This prevents scar tissue from forming between the raw surface on the turbinate & the septum. If this scar tissue forms it can also hamper air flow. Packing is not usually required you only need something to prevent the scar tissue bridge from forming.