Severity staging in chronic sinusitis: are CT scan findings related to patient symptoms?

Am J Rhinol. May-Jun 1999;13(3):161-7. doi: 10.2500/105065899781389704.


Chronic sinusitis is a prevalent problem. The symptoms of CS cause patients to seek medical attention, and therefore the presence of symptoms drives the use of health care resources. There is widespread clinical belief that computed tomography (CT) scan findings may be a reasonable proxy for disease severity in chronic sinusitis, and many authors have proposed that CT scan findings make up the key component in severity staging systems for chronic sinusitis. However, the relationship between symptom severity and CT scan findings in chronic sinusitis has not been well explained to date. To explore this relationship further, we examined data from consecutive patients with both a CT scan and a sinusitis symptom score, from ongoing prospective outcomes studies at two large academic centers in different cities (n = 254). CT scans were graded using two validated staging systems; symptom severity was assessed using two validated health status instruments and summary items. In addition, we explored multiple statistical modifications and permutations of CT staging to identify potential relationships between the two variables. In summary, no association between CT scan findings and symptom severity could be identified using both CT staging systems and patient-based symptom instruments. For instance, CT scans were examined: after eliminating normal scans, using different scoring algorithms, by worst side, by nonlinear association, when grouped into strata, and by eliminating patients with very severe disease; no statistical association was found between CT findings and patient-based symptoms using any of those techniques. Since symptom severity is a pivotal outcome measure in chronic sinusitis, these findings have significant implications for outcomes research and the development of severity staging systems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Chronic Disease
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis
  • Sinusitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*