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If you would like to know about septoplasty, the reasons for septoplasty and the benefits of septoplasty surgery, the following information will interest you.


Before you agree to have a septoplasty operation to treat your blocked nose it is sensible to know all you can about it.  The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your blocked nose treatment choices with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.



What is the problem?

You have a blocked nose. This is caused by your nasal septum, which is off centre and bent to one side (deviated). A septoplasty is an operation in which the nasal septum is straightened. A septoplasty is done if the septum is so bent that it interferes with your breathing or causes other problems.


What is the nasal septum?

The nasal septum is the partition inside the nose that separates the two nostrils. It is a vertical wall that divides the right nasal cavity from the left nasal cavity. It is made of gristle (cartilage) in the front and bone at the back. Usually the septum is straight and upright, and in the middle of the nose.

Septoplasty 2

What has gone wrong? (Pathology)

At birth, the nasal septum is usually straight and remains so during childhood. As we age the septum may bend, or an irregular shelf of cartilage or bone may grow (septal spur). Few adults have a completely straight septum. More often the septum is bent through some sort of injury.


A bent septum will narrow the nasal passage on one side, making the nose feel blocked. This can interfere with your breathing. A blockage of the nose may also cause other problems.


The sinuses, which are hollow spaces in the face bones, may not drain properly into the nose, leading to sinus infection. The small tubes (Eustachian tubes) running from the back of the nose to the ears may also become blocked. This can lead to ear infections and deafness.


Finally, a badly bent septum that is pressing against other tissues inside the nose can sometimes cause face pain and headaches.


The aims

The aim of the operation is to straighten your bent nasal septum. You will have a general anaesthetic and be completely asleep for the operation.


The benefits

Straightening out your septum will improve your nasal breathing and reduce any related problems with your sinuses and ears. Any headaches or pain caused by the bent septum will go.


Are there any alternatives?

Nasal drops, sprays or tablets will not relieve an obstruction caused by a bent nasal septum. They may improve nasal breathing a little, but problems return when the treatment stops. Using nasal drops for a long time may actually damage the lining of the nose (mucosa) and make the blockage worse. The only way to repair a deviated nasal septum is through surgery.


What if you do nothing?

The bend in your septum will stay, as will the problems it causes.


Who should have it done?

If you have continued difficultly in breathing through your nose, you should see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon for an examination. Other things besides a crooked septum can cause nasal obstructions.


People who do have a bent septum, which is causing breathing or sinus problems, should have the septoplasty.


Who should not have it done?

People who have other medical conditions that would make it unsafe for them to have a general anaesthetic should not have one.


Author: Mr Robert Ruckley MB. ChB.  F.R.C.S.  Consultant ENT surgeon.

© Dumas Ltd 2006

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