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What is nasal airway surgery?

Senior woman blowing nose

Nasal airway surgery is the surgical repair of abnormal structures in the nasal cavity. Your nasal cavity is a tunnel that extends from your nostrils to the top of your throat. It is made up of various bones, soft tissue, and cartilage. Nasal airway surgery can help restore airflow and full function of a damaged or diseased nasal cavity.

Nasal airway surgery is a common but major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all your treatment choices before having nasal airway surgery. 

Types of nasal airway surgery

The types of nasal airway surgery procedures include:

  • Ethmoidectomy removes part of the ethmoid bone. Your ethmoid bone is located at the top of your nasal cavity and makes up the ethmoid sinus. Ethmoidectomy can improve nasal drainage into your throat.

  • Polypectomy removes polyps in the nasal cavity. Polyps are noncancerous swellings in the nose that can block airflow.

  • Septoplasty corrects a deviated nasal septum or other septal deformity that can obstruct airflow through the nose and cause difficulty breathing. Your nasal septum divides your nasal cavity into left and right sides and ends at your nostrils. 

  • Tumor removal is the surgical excision of a tumor from your nasal cavity.

  • Turbinate surgery reduces the size of your nasal turbinates, which can cause obstruction and difficulty breathing through the nose. Your nasal turbinates are located on the outer side walls of your nasal cavity. They project out into your nasal cavity and are responsible for conditioning and filtering the air that moves through your nasal cavity.

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition nasal airway surgery. These include:

  • Rhinoplasty is the repair or reshaping of the nose. It is often called a “nose job.”

  • Sinus surgery is the widening of the sinus passages to allow for proper drainage to the nose.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 4, 2016

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Nose Surgery. American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
  2. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.
  3. Septoplasty. Cleveland Clinic.
  4. Septoplasty and Turbinate Surgery. American Rhinologic Society.
  5. Sinus and Nasal Airway Surgery. Head and Neck Associates of Orange County.
  6. Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ).

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