Septal Perforations: Why and How Are They Fixed?
A septal perforation, in simple terms, is a hole in the cartilaginous septum that divides your left and right nostril. This hole (perforation) connects the two passages.
A perforation can be caused due to many reasons. Most commonly, it is caused by previous nasal surgeries and trauma to the septum. Other causes can be abuse of drugs like cocaine and diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, or even syphilis. In all cases, the hole is caused by the destruction of septal tissue due to reduction in blood flow.
Symptoms of Septal Perforation
The symptoms of septal perforations most often include a whistling sound while breathing, nasal bleeding, difficulty in breathing, and considerable pain. Bleeding leads to formation of scabs, which further hampers breathing.
Typically, breathing is an automatic body function that happens even without you consciously paying attention. However, for people who have septal perforations, each breath becomes a painful challenge. Not only does more effort go into breathing due to blockage, but each breath cycle hurts badly due to the wounds. This can lead to a loss of sleep, focus, and the ability to live peacefully.
Patients suffering from septal perforations must seek medical help immediately, as the condition only worsens with time.
Treatment for Septal Perforations
Surgery is the most obvious and effective method to get rid of this problem. An experienced surgeon can help restore the functionality and structure of your septum. Surgeries are the best way to correct the lacerations, tears, and holes that have caused the damage.
Though new cartilage cannot be generated, surgeons can use tissue from your nose or other parts of your body to fill up the hole carefully. Besides filling the perforation with tissue, the hole can also be blocked by creating flaps that effectively cover the holes.
Other methods include rinsing your nasal passage with saline solution regularly or coating the passage with lubricating gel. Both have to be obtained on prescription and by consulting an expert so as to avoid mistakes that could cause further damage to your septum. In case you consider using these methods, you need to keep visiting your doctor regularly for checkups, as these will only keep the symptoms in check and not heal the perforation.
Another option available is the use of septal buttons. These buttons are splints made of silastic rubber. A medical professional will place these septal buttons into the perforations, thereby filling in the holes. Here again, however, regular visits to your doctor are necessary, as septal buttons only relieve symptoms and don’t offer a permanent solution. Septal buttons must also be worn all the time.
Saline solutions and lubricating gels can only be used when the perforations are not too pronounced. Septal buttons are suitable in cases where the perforations are too small for surgeries. In cases of larger perforations, it is necessary to undergo surgery.
Septal perforations are not like other wounds and will not heal with time. As mentioned above, patients suffering from septal perforations must not delay seeking medical help.
Setting Up a Consultation
Those who suspect that they may be experiencing a septal perforation must contact our office and schedule a consultation as soon as possible. ENT Specialist Dr. Jason Roth will be able to help you address this issue.