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Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2010 Sep-Oct;24(5):e118-22. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2010.24.3511.

Numerical simulation of the effects of inferior turbinate surgery on nasal airway heating capacity.

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Departments of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of inferior turbinate surgery on nasal airway heating capacity using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations.


Heat transfer simulations were performed for a normal nasal cavity and others with severely enlarged inferior turbinates, before and after three simulated surgical procedures: (1) resection of the lower third free edge of the inferior turbinate, (2) excision of the head of the inferior turbinate, and (3) radical inferior turbinate resection. The models were run with three different environmental temperatures.


The changes of airflow pattern with the reduction of inferior turbinate affected heat transfer greatly. However, the distribution of wall heat flux showed that the main location for heat exchange was still the anterior region. Under the cold environment, the nasal cavities with the head of inferior turbinate reduction were capable of heating the inspired air to 98.40% of that of the healthy one; however, for the case with lower third of inferior turbinate excised, the temperature was 11.65% lower and for the case with radical inferior turbinate resection, 18.27% lower temperature compared with the healthy nasal cavity.


The healthy nasal cavity is able to warm up or cool down the inspiratory airflow under different environmental temperature conditions; for the nasal cavities with turbinate surgeries, partial inferior turbinate reduction can still sustain such heating capacity. However, too much or total turbinate resection may impair the normal function of temperature adjustment by nasal mucosa.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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