Clinical effects of middle turbinate resection after endoscopic sinus surgery: a systematic review

Am J Rhinol Allergy. Nov-Dec 2014;28(6):502-7. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2014.28.4097.


Background: The middle turbinate (MT) is a structure that is often carefully preserved during endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS) in an effort to preserve nasal physiology and serve as an anatomic landmark. However, resection is performed in select cases because of involvement of the MT in the inflammatory process, obstruction, or instability. Therefore, significant controversy exists among surgeons regarding the indications for proceeding with MT resection in ESS. This study evaluates clinical outcomes of MT resection after ESS.

Methods: An English language search of the PubMed and Ovid databases was conducted for publications examining clinical outcomes of MT resection after ESS performed for chronic rhinosinusitis. Two authors independently examined the articles to identify those meeting inclusion criteria. Any differences over which studies to include were resolved by discussion and consensus. Bias assessment was conducted using the Cochrane Collaboration bias tool for randomized controlled trials and the Newcastle-Ottawa bias tool for cohort and case-control studies.

Results: After initial screening, search results revealed 71 articles that warranted detailed evaluation. After applying inclusion criteria, 9 studies were selected. A total of 2123 patients were included among the studies. All studies were controlled. Within the limited available data, olfaction scores may be improved in the MT resection patients compared with MT preservation patients. No difference between the groups was noted for quality of life outcomes, nasal airway resistance, or rates of postoperative frontal sinusitis. In regard to postoperative endoscopic examinations, some studies note greater improvement in the MT resection group compared with the MT preservation group, while others were equivalent.

Conclusion: Although some studies show outcome benefit in MT resection patients compared with MT preservation patients, several others show no difference. When MT resection was appropriately indicated, no studies showed detrimental effects compared with MT preservation in their designated outcomes. Additional more stringent studies are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endoscopy*
  • Humans
  • Paranasal Sinuses / surgery*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rhinoplasty*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Turbinates / immunology
  • Turbinates / pathology
  • Turbinates / surgery*