Empty Nose Syndrome
November 15-December 10, 2007
I scoured the Internet, for information and reassurance. Eventually, I turned up this site: http://www.emptynosesyndrome.org/ and discovered dozens of others suffering painful symptoms, just as I was, as the result of sinus surgeries involving turbinate reductions. Loss of turbinate structure can result in a condition called Empty Nose Syndrome or ENS. The condition is described on this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empty_nose_syndrome. Even as I read about the importance of turbinates—they are nasal structures that filter and humidify the air we breathe, and create the resistance that provides the sensation of breathing–I didn’t realize that turbinates are bony structures.
On December 5, at my last appointment with Dr. S, I picked up my patient records. That evening, I peered through them, with one hand covering my eyes. Among the upsetting things I found was the CT scan report of 10-18: “No significant septal deviation is seen.” I had not had a deviated septum! The surgical pathology report notes a clinical history of deviated nasal septum and chronic sinusitis. I had never been treated for a sinus condition, or complained of one, in my life. I had seen Dr. S. for tinnitus. According to the surgical pathology report, this was removed from my sinuses: multiple pieces of flat bone and cartilage, in aggregate measuring 4.0 x 4.0 x 0.2 cm. (4.0 cm is larger than 1 ½ inch). Also some gray mucoid soft tissue measuring 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 cm. Multiple pieces of BONE were removed?!
I felt myself encased in a human cage, falling down into a black abyss. Bone was removed. Turbinates are made of bone. That was why people on the forum kept saying that turbinates could not grow back. My condition was a life sentence.
A few days later, I found the courage to read some more of the patient reports. On three follow-up visits after the surgery, Dr. S. had noted that I had atrophic rhinitis.