Coblation to the Inferior Turbinates

What are the turbinates?

Turbinates are lumps of tissue within the nose.

What is the function of the turbinates?

The turbinates regulate the flow of air through the nose. They also warm and humidify the air that we breathe and catch small particles of dust.

What problems can occur in the turbinates?

There are two main problems that may affect your child's turbinates:

  1. The turbinates become too big causing blockage
  2. If your child has allergy (Hayfever), the turbinates can swell up causing blockage

What happens when turbinates become too big?

Big turbinates can block the nose. This can result in your child breathing only through the mouth and snoring at night. Watch your child during the day and night to see if he or she breathes with the mouth open!

How are big turbinates diagnosed?

See your GP if you think your child has big turbinates. Your GP will ask about your child's symptoms and examine your child.

Your GP may have difficulty directly seeing your child's turbinates without the right equipment.

Dr Singh can use a special flexible camera that is passed through your child's nose (after using a special numbing spray) to look directly at your child's turbinates.

How are big turbinates treated?

See your GP if you think your child has big turbinates. Treatment options include:

  • Do nothing - If the symptoms are not severe, treatment may not be necessary
  • Anti-Allergy treatments (Nasal Steroid sprays, antihistamines, De-sensitisation) – Daily medications may be enough to shrink the turbinates and control the nasal blockage
  • Referral to Dr Singh for Coblation to the Inferior Turbinates

How are big turbinates treated surgically?

The turbinates are treated while your child is asleep under a general anaesthetic. The turbinates are treated through the nose - there are no cuts made on the outside.

There are many different ways to treat the turbinates. Older style ways to treat the turbinates include:

  • Diathermy (Burning the turbinates at high temperatures)
  • Turbinectomy/ turbinoplasty (removing all or part of the turbinates – this is performed in adults and is almost never required in children)
  • Laser (This was trialled in the 1980s, but is no longer routinely performed as it carries high risks, is not very effective and can cause serious complications)

Dr Singh uses "Coblation" technology to treat the turbinates.

What is "Coblation"?

Coblation is a modern technology that shrinks the turbinates safely at low temperatures. The potential benefits of the technology include less bleeding and less pain, with much lower risk of complications.

When should Coblation to the inferior turbinates be performed?

Coblation to the inferior turbinates is usually performed when the turbinates become big enough to affect your child's breathing.

Coblation to the inferior turbinates is routinely performed at the same time as adenoidectomy and/or tonsillectomy to ensure there is no blockage to the airway.

Coblation to the inferior turbinates is often performed with adenoidectomy as a temporary measure in children with a deviated septum. This is because correction of a deviated septum is best performed when a child’s growth has slowed down (usually around age 15-16+). Coblation to the inferior turbinates and adenoidectomy can be safely performed from a very young age (1+).

These are the general guidelines - your child is an individual and the decision as to when to undergo Coblation to the inferior turbinates is based on your child's individual circumstances, your choice and Dr Singh's recommendation.

Where is the operation performed?

In the interests of your child's safety, Dr Singh performs children's procedures at Westmead Private Hospital and Hospital for Specialist Surgery. Westmead Private Hospital is one of Australia's leading private hospitals. It is part of the Westmead healthcare campus, the largest Hospital complex in the Southern Hemisphere. Westmead Private Hospital is also affiliated with the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, Australia's oldest and largest Medical School.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Yes. Coblation to the inferior turbinates is an "Elective" procedure, meaning it is your choice to have the operation performed. Alternatives to surgery include:

  • Do nothing – Your child may continue to experience problems related to the turbinates
  • Anti-Allergy treatments (Nasal Steroid sprays, antihistamines, De-sensitisation) – Daily medications may be enough to shrink the turbinates and control the nasal blockage. In general, medications should be trialled for at least 1 month before giving up.

Are there any risks to surgery?

Yes. Everything we do in life has risks. Even something as simple as crossing the street has risks... but we still cross the street. Dr Singh will explain the risks of your child's operation and provide you with an information pamphlet that explains the risks in detail. If you have any questions about risks, ask Dr Singh during your consultation.

What should I do next?

See your GP if you think your child has turbinate problems (blocked nose with mouth breathing, snoring). Ask your GP for a referral to see Dr Singh and call us for an appointment.