Radiofrequency volume turbinate reduction versus partial turbinectomy: Clinical and histological features

Massimiliano Garzaro, Vincenzo Landolfo, Matteo Pezzoli, Simona Defilippi, Paola Campisi, Carlo Giordano, Giancarlo Pecorari

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Background: Nasal obstruction is a common symptom related to turbinate hypertrophy in 20% of cases. When medical treatment failed different surgical options were available. Actually, nasal physiology impairment after surgical treatment is not fully clear. This study evaluates microscopic mucosal changes and physiological function, by means of mucociliary transport time (MCT), after radiofrequency volume turbinate reduction and partial inferior turbinectomy. Methods: Forty-eight nonallergic patients were treated for chronic nasal obstruction. Twenty-six patients (group A) underwent radiofrequency turbinate reduction and 22 patients (group B) underwent partial turbinectomy associated with septoplasty. Mucosal specimens obtained before T0 and 6 months (T1) after surgery were compared by means of optical microscope and transmission electron microscope. All patients were evaluated using MCT at T0 and T1. Results: Optical analysis showed circumscribed squamous metaplasia and fibrosis in specimens obtained from group A. Same changes were more evident in group B. Ultrastructural analysis evidenced loss of ciliated epithelium in group B, whereas in group A a normal number of cilia was found. In all patients at T1, MCT time was prolonged in comparison with the preoperative values. After surgery, group B showed significantly prolonged MCT in comparison with group A (p <0.05). Conclusion: In our study both surgical techniques achieved good clinical outcomes with improved nasal function, although the ciliated epithelium appeared partially impaired. These findings resulted in a prolonged MCT in all patients, especially in those treated with partial turbinectomy. Compared to partial resection, intraturbinal turbinate reduction seems to be the method of choice to better preserve nasal physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology and Allergy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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