The turbinates are outpouchings along the sidewalls of the nose.  There is usually three on each side, the superior, middle, and inferior turbinates.  Sometimes, there is a fourth one, called the supreme turbinate.  Each of these structures has a certain function, consisting of humidifying, filtering, and warming the air that passes through the nasal airways into the lungs.



The size of the lowermost turbinate, i.e. the inferior turbinate, fluctuates with many factors, such as the time of the day, the season, the amount of humidity in the air, etc.  In addition, some people have nasal allergies which causes the inferior turbinate as well as the other parts of the inner lining of the nose to become swollen during allergy flair up.  This obviously leads to nasal obstruction (nasal airway blockage), and as a matter of fact sometimes this turbinate swelling and enlargement becomes permanent and statistically it is the second most common cause of nasal obstruction, the first one being a deviated septum.



When the inferior turbinates become permanently enlarged and swollen and cause continuous airway difficulty they can be surgically reduced.  This is usually done by removing a portion of the inferior turbinates, either by surgical excision, or by laser.  This procedure is called TURBINECTOMY.  Sometimes only the bony structure of the turbinate is removed, a procedure referred to as SUBMUCOUS RESECTION OF TURBINATES.  Turbinectomy is rarely performed alone, and is usually performed in conjunction with a rhinoplasty or setoplasty.

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