A retrospective analysis of treatment outcomes and time to relapse after intensive medical treatment for chronic sinusitis

Hamsa N. Subramanian, Kenneth B. Schechtman, Daniel L. Hamilos

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105 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the high prevalence of chronic sinusitis, there are few published studies assessing its response to medical treatment. We analyzed, retrospectively, 40 patients seen in our center who were treated for chronic sinusitis with a protocol of intensive medical therapy. Both symptomatic and radiographic improvements were assessed as well as factors associated with early relapse. Methods: Intensive medical treatment consisted of 1 month of antibiotics, a short course of oral steroids, and adjunctive therapy (e.g., nasal irrigations plus intranasal steroids). After intensive medical therapy, adjunctive medical therapy was continued. A sinus computed tomography was performed at baseline and 6-8 weeks later and scored for extent of disease. Pre- and posttreatment symptom scores also were assessed. Time to relapse was defined as the time interval after antibiotic treatment at which a recurrence of symptoms necessitated reinstitution of antibiotics and/or oral steroids. Results: Thirty-six of the 40 patients improved either symptomatically, radiographically, or both following the medical regimen. Twenty-six patients had sustained symptomatic benefit beyond 8 weeks after initial treatment. A statistically significant correlation was found between the change in pre- to posttreatment symptom scores and computed tomography scores. Using a log-rank test to compare rates of sinusitis relapse, nasal polyposis and a history of sinus surgery were significantly associated with earlier relapse (p = 0.006 and 0.018, respectively). In contrast, atopy, asthma, and persistent obstruction of the ostiomeatal unit were not associated with early relapse. Conclusion: Intensive medical treatment resulted in symptomatic and radiographic improvement in chronic sinusitis, and the majority of patients remained free of a relapse for >8 weeks. A history of nasal polyposis or previous sinus surgery was associated with earlier relapse of sinusitis symptoms. In contrast, the presence of atopy, a history of asthma, or persistent OMU obstruction was not associated with earlier relapse. Although long-term benefits have not been established, a prospective study of treatment outcomes from intensive medical treatment appears to be warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


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