What is Septal Deviation?

The nasal septum is the structure that divides the inside of the nasal cavity and separates the right side of the nose from the left side. It is comprised of cartilage in the front and bone in the back. Ideally, it should sit in the center of the nose so that there is an equal airway on both sides. However, trauma or anatomical malformations can push the septum to one side.

Signs of Septal Deviation

Often, the level of deviation is so insignificant that a patient may live his or her entire life without noticing an issue. The following unpleasant symptoms can be a result of a significant deviation:

  • Frequent facial pain
  • Nose bleeds
  • Snoring
  • Headache
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal obstruction

What Causes Septal Deviation?

A septal deviation is typically a result of trauma, although in some cases it is simply how a patient’s nose developed during his or her childhood.

Take Our Sinus Quiz

Our quiz measures symptoms, along with frequency and duration, and is used as a tool for diagnosis and treatment.

A septal deviation can be diagnosed in three possible ways.  The first test detects deviations in the front of the nose.  The second and third tests can detect a deviation further back in the nasal passage.


Anterior rhinoscopy is an examination that uses a light and a nasal speculum.  This process detects if there is a deviation that might be in the front of the nose.

Nasal Endoscopy

Nasal endoscopy uses a flexible fiberoptic endoscopy to access the posterior (back) portion of the nasal cavity.  Nasal endoscopy is performed by sliding a tiny camera through the nasal passages. This procedure doesn’t require anesthesia, although some patients may prefer a numbing nasal spray. Usually, an endoscopy can be completed with no medications at all. This procedure is performed routinely in our Sinus Center office and allows our physicians to fully access each patient’s anatomy.