Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of radiofrequency for reduction of inferior turbinate volume.
Study design: Prospective before-and-after trial.
Methods: Fourteen patients complaining of chronic nasal obstruction and failing to respond to medical treatment were prospectively enrolled. All patients presented with inferior turbinate hypertrophy and no septal deformity. Radiofrequency inferior turbinate tissue reduction with three punctures in each turbinate (mean energy/puncture: 342 +/- 36 J, mean duration: 69 +/- 17 s, plateau tissue temperature: 75 +/- 6.4 degrees C). Patients were evaluated before and on days 3, 7, and 60 after intervention.
Results: No postoperative pain or complications were reported. Evaluation of nasal obstruction, quantified by visual analogue scale, showed a significant decrease of day time and nighttime obstruction after surgery. Acoustic rhinometry measurements showed that turbinate hypertrophy was significantly reduced in the sitting and supine positions on day 60 after surgery. Saccharin transit times decreased significantly on day 60 compared with preoperative measurements. Ciliary beat frequency, measured in vitro in nasal epithelial cells sampled from the inferior turbinate by brushing, was not significantly different before surgery and on day 60 after surgery. In the same samples, ciliated cells were the most abundant epithelial cell type before and after surgery, although in five cases, moderate numbers of squamous cells were detected on either day 7 or day 60 after surgery.
Conclusion: Radiofrequency is a safe surgical procedure capable of reducing turbinate volume without altering the nasal mucosa, and causing minimal discomfort for the patient.