A pilot study to assess the safety and efficacy of ’degloving’ of the inferior turbinate is described. This prospective study reports on the effectiveness of the technique in 37 patients with nasal obstruction due to inferior turbinate hypertrophy. Both objective and subjective measurements of nasal patency were made pre-operatively, and repeated at six weeks, six months and two years post-operatively using nasal inspiratory peak flow rates, saccharin clearance time and an end referenced visual analogue scale to record nasal symptoms.
There was a significant improvement in the peak inspiratory flow at six weeks (96.4 to 151.2 l/min) and at six months (148.4 l/min), which was sustained at two years (117.1 l/min, p<0.001). There was an overall improvement in patient satisfaction with nasal symptoms (23.4 to 76.7, 76.8 and 66.8 at six weeks, six months and two years, p<0.001) and a decrease in the sensation of nasal obstruction (71.9 to 21.5, 32.9 and 29.8, p<0.001), which was also sustained. Rhinorrhoea was reduced, and sense of smell increased across the group, but the improvements did not reach statistical significance. The results for postnasal drip and saccharin clearance did not show a significant change over the period of the study. There were no haemorrhagic complications in the group studied.
This pilot study demonstrates a new surgical technique for reduction of the inferior turbinates, that yields significant improvement in nasal obstruction, an acceptably low complication rate and is well tolerated by patients. A randomized controlled trial is being planned.