The nasal septum is a wall of connective tissue located between either side of the nose. It's proper placement is in the middle, separating the right nostril from the left in equal portions. In some cases, it can deviate, or detour more toward one side of the nose than the other. This results in a narrowing or blocking of the nostril on the affected side. In many cases, a deviated septum is caused by an injury.
A deviated septum may not cause problems for the individual, but for some, may cause difficulty breathing, frequent nosebleeds, headaches and sinus infections. In cases where a deviated septum causes such problems, surgery may be recommended.
Common Treatments for a Deviated Septum
Nonsurgical treatments for a deviated septum may range from nasal decongestants to surgical repair. For example, nonsurgical treatments may include but are not limited to:
Nasal steroid sprays - offered through prescriptions, a nasal steroid spray reduces nasal passage inflammation. However, individuals using such spray may note irritation, dryness and burning inside the nose or the throat.
Decongestants - over-the-counter and prescription decongestants are available through nasal sprays or pills. However, frequent use of nasal sprays can create a type of dependency, creating more severe symptoms when the nasal spray is discontinued.
Antihistamines - an antihistamine is designed to help alleviate or prevent allergy and cold symptoms. However, many antihistamines may also cause drowsiness, reducing concentration, attention span and coordination, so many are not recommended for daily or long-term use.
Surgery for a deviated septum is called septoplasty. Surgery is often recommended when individuals experience chronic sinusitis, regular nosebleeds, or noticeable airway obstruction. The procedure repositions the nasal septum to the center of the nose, where it belongs. During the surgery, the surgeon may need to cut and even remove parts of the septum before it can be placed in its proper position. The degree of improvement an individual can expect with such surgery will depend on the severity of the actual deviation of the nasal septum.
Prior to the surgical procedure, the surgeon places in endoscope, or a thin, round tube that looks much like a straw, into the nasal passages to determine the shape of the septum. Depending on the severity of the deformity and the surgeon's approach, patients are given either a local or general anesthetic. The surgery procedure takes between one to two hours and is commonly performed in an outpatient surgery center.
To repair a deviated septum, the surgeon accesses the septum through the nostrils. An incision is made to separate the mucosa, or the thin layer of soft tissue that lines the nasal passages, from the cartilage and bone that make up the nose and nasal passages. The surgeon then straightens or trims the bent cartilage into its proper position. Following that, he'll place to mucosa back over the cartilage and bone.
Cost of septoplasty
In the United States, a septoplasty procedure may cost anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000. In many cases, health insurance providers reimburse this surgery, but that depends on a case-by-case basis. Costs may increase if an individual opts for rhinoplasty or correction of nasal bone structure as a cosmetic procedure. Nose jobs are generally not covered by health insurance policies. Costs are also determined by the surgeon, the location of the surgery, and geographical area.
Medical travelers venturing to locations such as Mexico, India, and Thailand may save between 20 and 50% on the costs of septoplasty.
Who performs a septoplasty procedure?
An ear, nose and throat specialist or surgeon undergoes traditional medical school, internship, residency and hospital training and then specializes in ear, nose and throat surgical procedures. An experienced ENT surgeon treats a wide number of conditions and diseases. An ENT surgeon may spend as many as 12 years in schooling and training which includes four years of medical school, one year of general surgery training followed by four years of specialized ENT surgery training and education.
Accredited and certified surgeons should belong to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology or the Entomological Society of America or other similar organizations or boards in the surgeon’s country of origin. Always verify the education, training and experience of any surgeon who may perform surgery and make sure they are licensed to practice in the facility of your choice.
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