Clinical Biomechanics

Volume 81, January 2021, 105237
Clinical Biomechanics

Nasal air conditioning following total inferior turbinectomy compared to inferior turbinoplasty – A computational fluid dynamics study

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2020.105237Get rights and content
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  • Two techniques for inferior turbinate reduction are compared in this CFD study.

  • Reduced air-mucosal heat and water exchange occurs with cold, dry inspired air.

  • The degree of impairment is accentuated with total turbinate resection (ITR).

  • Streams of much colder air are found in the nasopharynx following ITR.

  • Further study in the clinical impact on respiratory illness is of special interest.



The aim of this study was to use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to investigate the effects on nasal heat exchange and humidification of two different surgical techniques for reducing the inferior turbinate under different environmental conditions.


Virtual surgery using two techniques of turbinate reduction was performed in eight nasal airway obstruction patients. Bilateral nasal airway models for each patient were compared: 1) Pre-operative 2) Post inferior turbinoplasty 3) Post total inferior turbinate resection (ITR). Two representative healthy models were included. Three different environmental conditions were investigated 1) ambient air 2) cold, dry air 3) hot, humid air. CFD modelling of airflow and conditioning was performed under steady-state, laminar, inspiratory conditions.


Nasal conditioning is significantly altered following inferior turbinate reduction surgery, particularly with ITR under cold, dry inspired air (CDA). The degree of impairment is minor under the simulated range of environmental conditions (temperature = 12–40 °C; relative humidity = 13–80%). Streams of significantly colder air are found in the nasopharynx and more prevalent under CDA in ITR. These are related to high velocity flow streams, which remain cool in their centre throughout the widened inferior nasal cavity.


Reduced air-mucosal heat exchange and moisture carrying capacity occurs under cooler temperatures in patients following inferior turbinate surgery. The clinical impact in extremely cold and dry conditions in groups with poor baseline respiratory function, respiratory illness, or endurance athletes is of special interest.


Computer simulation
Air conditioning
Body temperature regulation
Nasal airflow

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