• Turbinate Cautery

    (Radiofrequency Ablation of Turbinates; RFA of Turbinates)

    Definition

    Turbinate cautery is a procedure to decrease the size of the blood vessels and tissue in the turbinates.
    The turbinates are 3 paired sets of structures that line the inside wall of the nose. These structures filter, moisten, and heat air as it enters the nose. They are made of small bones that are surrounded by soft tissue.
    nucleus fact sheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Procedure

    Turbinates can become enlarged and make it difficult for air to pass through the nose. This is usually caused by vasomotor or allergic rhinitis. Turbinate cautery reduces the size of the turbinates to help open up the airway. It may be done to:
    • Relieve blockage in the nasal passages
    • Improve breathing through the nose by increasing air flow
    • Reduce postnasal drip and excess drainage
    • Allow the sinuses to drain

    Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Crusting
    • Excess scar tissue
    • Persistent nasal blockage, postnasal drip, or sinus problems
    • Changes in your breathing
    Some turbinate tissue may regrow and require additional surgery with partial removal of turbinates.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Your doctor may do the following before your surgery:
    • Physical exam
    • Blood tests
    • Imaging tests to see internal nasal structures
    Before your procedure:
    • Follow instructions about eating and drinking restrictions before the procedure.
    • Talk to your doctor if you take any medications, herbs, or supplements. You may need to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
    Your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before the procedure. Smoking leads to an increase in scar tissue and poor healing that affects the success of the surgery.

    Anesthesia

    In most cases, turbinate cautery is done with local anesthesia. Your nose and the area around it will be numb, but you will still be awake.

    Description of the Procedure

    A heated probe is inserted into the nose. The heat clots and closes off certain blood vessels in the turbinates. Over time, the tissue will shrink because of the change in blood flow.
    Once the procedure is completed, the probe is removed.

    How Long Will It Take?

    Less than 30 minutes.

    Will It Hurt?

    Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. There is little pain associated with this procedure during recovery. Discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

    Post-procedure Care

    At the Care Center
    You will be monitored for a short period of time to check for bleeding or any complications. Once you feel ready you will be able to leave.
    If more extensive work was done, you may need to stay longer.
    At Home
    Swelling from the procedure will cause a feeling of stuffiness for a few days after surgery. Improvements in symptoms like breathing may take a few weeks. As the tissue heals, it shrinks the turbinates, improving airflow and breathing.
    Certain activities may need to be restricted for a short time. Follow up appointments will be needed to clear trapped blood or mucus and check recovery progress.
    Follow your doctor's instructions.

    Call Your Doctor

    It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Increase in bleeding or discharge
    • Persistent nosebleeds
    • Any problems that last longer than you or your doctor expect
    • New or worsening symptoms
    If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://entnet.org

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://entnet.org

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    References

    Brunworth J, Holmes J, Sindwani R. Inferior turbinate hypertrophy: Review and graduated approach to surgical management. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2013;27(5):411-415.

    Radiofrequency tissue reduction for turbinate hypertrophy. NICE interventional procedure guidance 495. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ipg495. Published June 2014. Accessed May 4, 2016.

    Septoplasty & turbinate surgery. American Rhinologic Society website. Available at: http://care.american-rhinologic.org/septoplasty%5Fturbinates. Accessed May 4, 2016.

    Septoplasty and turbinate surgery. VCU Health Services website. Available at: http://www.vcu.edu/ent/docs/septoplasty%5F1.pdf. Accessed May 4, 2016.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.