Empty nose syndrome

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2015 Jan;15(1):493. doi: 10.1007/s11882-014-0493-x.


Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is a rare, late complication of turbinate surgery. The most common clinical symptoms are paradoxical nasal obstruction, nasal dryness and crusting, and a persistent feeling of dyspnea. Little is known about the pathogenesis of ENS, though it is speculated that anatomical changes leading to alterations in local environment, disruption of mucosal cooling, and disruption of neurosensory mechanisms are strongly implicated. The diagnosis is clinical, though often difficult to make due to the poor correlation between subjective and objective findings. Medical therapies include mucosal humidification, irrigations, and emollients. Surgical therapy should be reserved for refractory cases and may involve turbinate reconstruction, most commonly using implantable biomaterials. Ultimately, prevention of this feared complication through turbinate-sparing techniques is essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Nasal Obstruction / etiology*
  • Prostheses and Implants / adverse effects
  • Rhinitis, Atrophic / etiology
  • Syndrome
  • Turbinates / surgery