What is septoplasty?

Septoplasty is surgery inside the nose to straighten a deviated septum. The septum, about 7 centimeters long (2.5 to 3 inches) in adults, is made of cartilage and bone. It separates the inside of the nose into two chambers or nostrils.

What is a deviated septum?

A septum is deviated if it is crooked or bent instead of straight. A deviated septum can block one or both chambers of the nose and interfere with airflow. A septum can become deviated from an injury, but it can also grow that way naturally.

How is a deviated septum diagnosed?

A doctor will examine the inside of the nose, possibly by performing a nasal endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a camera on the end. A computed tomography (CT) scan can also detect a deviated septum, but it is usually unnecessary. After the diagnosis, the doctor will discuss treatment options, including septoplasty.

Are there other causes of nasal obstruction?

Yes. Allergies and polyps can cause nasal blockages. Also, turbinates – long ridges of bone and tissue inside the nose that protrude into the nostrils – can obstruct if they are too large. Steroid nasal sprays can reduce swelling in turbinates, and adhesive nasal strips can provide temporary relief.

Why is septoplasty necessary?

Septoplasty is the only way to correct a deviated septum, which can make breathing through the nose difficult and force breathing through the mouth. Mouth breathing can cause dry mouth. Inability to breathe through the nose is even more of a problem at night and can inhibit sleep.

Sometimes septoplasty is part of other medical procedures, including sinus surgery and the removal of nasal tumors. Also, although septoplasty itself does not change the nose’s shape, it can be combined with nose-shaping surgery called septorhinoplasty.

Ultimately, it is up to each patient to decide whether to undergo septoplasty to straighten a deviated septum. The condition will not hurt anyone who can tolerate the symptoms.

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