Understanding a Septal Perforation
If you or a loved one has a deviated septum, chances are you’ve been thinking of getting (or already got) a septoplasty—a reconstructive surgery that corrects deviated septums. Unfortunately, an all-too-common complication of septoplasty is a perforated septum.
What is a septal perforation?
A septal perforation occurs whenever there’s a hole in the nasal septum. It’s most commonly a complication of septoplasty, which is a very delicate procedure. Even the slightest nick in the septum during a septoplasty can, if left untreated, become a much bigger hole.
Training to repair a septal perforation is minimal because it’s prevalence is small compared to other common nasal problems. It’s smaller occurrence is no indication of it being any less serious. Many ENTs aren’t familiar with the best methods for treating a septal perforation. It’s easy to see a small hole in the septum and tell a patient to just wait and see if it heals. In some cases when a septal perforation is fresh, it may heal on its own. But often times that is not the case. A septal perforation can remain open for years and even increase in size over time.
And as you can imagine, having a hole in your septum leads to further complications. It makes breathing more difficult and can also be very uncomfortable. Septal perforations can lead to painful infections. If left untreated, the hole in a septum can widen to the point that the septum is nearly gone.
What can I do if I have a septal perforation?
If you have a septal perforation, the first thing to do is see your doctor or ENT and try to get them to book you in for a consultation, preferably with a specialist, as soon as possible. In some cases if the doctor has experience dealing with septal perforations reconstructive surgery may be required. Alternatively if you have undergone surgery or several surgeries before it may not be recommended to do another if the perforation isn’t major. Dr. Lee Ann Klausner is the leading septal perforation specialist in New York City and will be able to determine the proper treatments and necessity for surgical intervention.
While you wait for your procedure, the best way to treat a septal perforation is to not agitate it, and to make sure the hole doesn’t get bigger. This means:
- Keeping the inside of your nose humid using a regular or nasal humidifier
- Possibly going on antibiotic irrigation or a sinus rinse, as prescribed by your doctor
- Using emollients (nasal drops) as prescribed by your doctor
- Avoiding picking your nose or blowing it forcefully
Remember, the faster a septal perforation is treated, the better the outcome. If the perforation gets too big, it becomes much more difficult to repair.
Make sure you get a septal perforation repair specialist
While it is an ENT that performs septoplasty surgery and can potentially cause a septal perforation as a complication of the surgery, not all ENT’s are trained to handle and treat them. If you or a loved one has a septal perforation make sure to ask your doctor about their experience and history in treating them.
Dr. Lee Ann M. Klausner MD, FACS is a septal perforation doctor with decades of experience performing both successful septoplasties to correct deviated septums, as well as septal perforation repair. If you or a loved one suffers from a deviated septum or a septal perforation, set up an appointment today.