Update on nonmalignant lesions of the inferior turbinate

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Purpose of review

The inferior turbinates are routinely examined by otolaryngologists on anterior rhinoscopy and nasal endoscopy. Most lesions of the inferior turbinate are benign but can often be confused with malignancy. This review highlights the broad differential of nonmalignant lesions of the inferior turbinates and their management.

Recent findings

A variety of infectious, inflammatory, neoplastic, and vascular lesions may affect the inferior turbinates. The most common nonmalignant lesions of the sinonasal region are nasal polyps, inverted papillomas, hemangiomas, and angiofibromas. Early lesions are often asymptomatic and discovered incidentally on routine examination. As these lesions grow they present with nonspecific signs that can be seen in benign, malignant, and infectious etiologies. The most common signs and symptoms are nasal obstruction, rhinorrhea, epistaxis, sinusitis, and hyposmia. Most nonmalignant lesions have characteristic appearances but definitive diagnosis is achieved with biopsy or culture. If the lesions are small the biopsy itself is often curative.


Lesions of the inferior turbinates are rarely isolated to these structures alone. Careful examination can noninvasively assist in early diagnosis of extensive lesions. Once malignancy and processes such as invasive fungal sinusitis or inverted papillomas have been ruled out, treatment of these lesions is ordinarily noncomplicated and definitive.

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