Deviated Septum Surgery and Turbinectomy (Septoplasty, Nasal Airway Surgery, Surgical Instructions)

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Shah obtained his BA/MD from Boston University and completed his Otolaryngology residency at Tufts University followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children's Hospital Boston at Harvard University. After fellowship, he joined the faculty of Children's National Medical Center in 2006. Dr. Shah is an active clinical researcher and has received numerous awards for his research.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are risks and complications of deviated septum surgery (septoplasty) or turbinectomy?

Although the surgery will be performed safely and with care in order to obtain the best possible results, patients have the right to be informed that the surgery may involve risks of unsuccessful results, complications, or injury from both known and unforeseen causes. Because individuals differ in their response to surgery, anesthetic reactions, and healing outcomes, ultimately, there can be no guarantee made as to the results or potential complications. Furthermore, surgical outcomes may be dependent on preexisting or concurrent medical conditions. Additional surgery may be necessary after the nose has had a chance to heal after surgery. Moreover, adherence to follow-up instructions and appointments by the patient can influence the surgical results.

The following complications have been reported in the medical literature. This list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible complication. They are listed here for information only, not to frighten patients, but to make them aware and more knowledgeable concerning these surgical procedures. Although many of these complications are rare, they can occur even in the hands of experienced surgeons practicing the standard of community care. Anyone who is contemplating surgery must weigh the potential risks and complications against the potential benefits of the surgery, or any alternative to surgery. The following is a list of complications that may occur with these nasal surgeries:

  1. Nasal obstruction due to failure to straighten the septum or later re-deviation of the septum, or the re-growth or swelling of the turbinates. This may necessitate revision surgery.
  2. Failure to resolve coexisting sinus infections or recurrence of coexisting sinus problems and/or polyps, or need for further or more aggressive surgery.
  3. Bleeding. In rare situations, a need for blood products or a blood transfusion.
  4. Chronic nasal drainage, or excessive dryness or crusting of the nose or sinuses
  5. Need for allergy evaluation, treatments, or environmental controls. Surgery is neither a cure for nor a substitute for good allergy control or treatment.
  6. Failure to improve or resolve concurrent respiratory illnesses such as, but not limited to asthma, bronchitis, or cough.
  7. Failure to resolve associated "sinus or nasal" headaches. The exact cause of headaches can be difficult to determine and have many causes that are not due to nasal septum or turbinates. Patients may require consultation with another specialist such as a neurologist.
  8. Damage to the eye and its associated structures.
  9. Brain fluid (CSF) leak or infection.
  10. Permanent numbness of the upper teeth, palate, or face.
  11. Prolonged pain, impaired healing, and the need for hospitalization.
  12. Septal perforation, which is a hole inside the nose (septum) that produces an open connection between the right and left sides of the nose.
  13. Failure to restore or worsening of the sense of smell or taste, or failure to relieve nosebleeds.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/8/2014

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