coblation conchotomy – the end of a blocked nose era

warning: the following links and videos show some things that you are probably going to find gross. watch them at your own risk.

someone once told me, that buddhism says “once a year, you should do something you’ve never done before”.
i’ve had so many different things inside my nose lately that i think that counts for 2009.

some time ago, i discovered two fairly large masses in my nostrils.
searching for information on the internet returned lots of websites that were talking about either nasal haematoma (see photo quiz of the aafp, pictures at meduweb) or haemangioma (e.g. blog post and corresponding picture).
it wasn’t likely to be a haematoma because that is usually caused by being hit on your nose (which i hadn’t been), and the “balloons” in these pictures originated in the septum, while mine seemed to originate on the opposite side.. i didn’t know about the tumours, though.

i was relieved to hear my ENT doctor tell me that i just had very large turbinates (or nasal conchae). turns out this is why my nose had been more or less constantly congested for several years.

in terms of treatment, i had two choices:
an operation which would include a correction of the turbinates and septum, several days in a hospital, and quite some time to fully heal.
a procedure called “coblation conchotomy”, where radiofrequency is used to destroy parts of the tissue. the resulting scar tissue would then contract (as typical for scar tissue), reducing the turbinates’ size.

coblation only requires local anaesthesia, takes about 30 minutes alltogether, and is, generally, a pretty fascinating technique:
a tiny halo of reactive plasm is formed around the instrument’s tip, which makes it possible to “cut” molecular compounds in a very limited area without even getting hotter than 40-70 degrees celcius. this way, contiguous tissues stay unharmed.

there’s a video demonstration of the technique on youtube – supposedly intended to calm down possible patients. not sure it fulfills its purpose:

coblation turbinate reduction: a patient perspective

this narrator strongly reminded me of craig tucker from southpark – both in his way of speaking, and the blocked-nose sound of his voice.

update 2009-04-11: it’s been just over a month now, and i’ve recently had my last of 3 (4?) checkups. during the past weeks, i simply applied a salve to my nostrils, and in intervals of 7, 7, 14 and 14 days, my ENT doctor cleaned out the canals using something like a tiny vacuum cleaner. it’s healing well, i can breathe freely1 and i can totally recommend the procedure.

  1. except for a running nose now that the allergy season has started again :-\ []

One thought on “coblation conchotomy – the end of a blocked nose era

  1. Comparing with other videos with the ways of turbinate reduction, this one REALLY calms down :/

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