Medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate: effect on the ostiomeatal unit and the uncinate process.

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Jun;266(6):857-61. Epub 2008 Nov 8.

Medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate: effect on the ostiomeatal unit and the uncinate process.
Lee KC, Lee SS, Lee JK, Lee SH.

Department of Otolaryngology, Kangbuk Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 108, Pyoung-Dong, Jongro-Ku, Seoul, 110-746, South Korea.

Abstract
It is apparently a common practice to fracture the inferior turbinate medially and superiorly to facilitate the fenestration of the inferior meatus, and to fracture medially and lateralize the inferior turbinate during turbinoplasty. However, it is also known that medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate may induce lateral displacement of the uncinate process. We investigated medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate to see whether it had any effect on changing the position of the uncinate process. A retrospective study was done on 23 patients who underwent medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate during submucosal turbinoplasty or turbinectomy from January 2004 through September 2006. By analyzing ostiomeatal-unit computed tomography, we measured the angle of the uncinate process, the minimal width of the ethmoid infundibulum, and the size of the maxillary sinus ostium. The angle of the uncinate process was 14.19-32.45 degrees , the minimal width of the ethmoid infundibulum was 0.61-2.45 mm, and the size of the maxillary sinus ostium was 2.14-6.77 mm. After the surgery, the angle of the uncinate process was 15.56-32.51 degrees , the minimal width of the ethmoid infundibulum was 0.53-2.52 mm, and the size of the maxillary sinus ostium was 2.18-7.01 mm. Pathologic change in the ostiomeatal-unit was not observed for an average period of 14.9 months (range 10.3-21.8 months) follow-up period. Our report suggests that the medial fracturing of the inferior turbinate does not alter the position of the uncinate process and the size of the maxillary sinus ostium. Clinically, it does not seem to affect normal physiology of the sinus function nor does it cause sinusitis.