Nasal endoscopy and the definition and diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002 Jun;126(6):623-7. doi: 10.1067/mhn.2002.125602.


Objectives: Although endoscopy has been shown by a few authors to be a valuable tool for the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis, its true role in the evaluation of the patient with chronic rhinosinusitis has not been elucidated. The current definition of chronic rhinosinusitis is a symptom-based definition, and objective testing such as endoscopy or computed tomography (CT) is not included. However, the current treatment paradigm for chronic rhinosinusitis is dependent on the definition for diagnosis. Patients are treated with 4 weeks of antibiotics and decongestant/antihistamines/steroids based on the definition. This study aims to evaluate in a prospective fashion the place of endoscopy in the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis.

Study design: A group of 78 patients meeting the definition of chronic rhinosinusitis were subjected to same-day endoscopy and CT scanning.

Results: Seventeen (22%) of 78 patients had positive endoscopic and CT results. There were 20 (26%) of 78 patients with negative endoscopic and positive CT results. Six (8%) patients had positive endoscopic and negative CT results, and 35 (45%) had negative endoscopic and negative CT results. Overall, 37 (47%) patients had positive CT results, and 41 (53%) patients had negative CT results. Endoscopy showing the presence of purulence, nasal polyps, or watery congested mucosa correlated well with CT results. Negative endoscopy correlated with CT results in 65% of patients.

Conclusion: The use of endoscopy to corroborate the diagnosis in nonpolypoid or nonpurulent rhinosinusitis in previously unoperated patients is questioned. Patients who meet the subjective definition of chronic rhinosinusitis should have a high degree of sensitivity and specificity with endoscopy or CT. The fact this is not the case questions the accuracy of the definition and the treatment paradigm.

Significance: According to this study, positive endoscopic results correlated well with CT, and negative endoscopic results correlated in 71% of patients with negative CT results.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rhinitis / classification
  • Rhinitis / diagnosis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sinusitis / classification
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis*
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*