Objective: To compare intranasal distribution of saline solution delivered by three popular methods for nasal saline irrigation.
Study design: Prospective, controlled comparison.
Methods: Eight healthy adult volunteers received nasal irrigation with 40 mL of isotonic, nonionic contrast material immediately before having coronal computed tomography to visualize distribution of solution in the paranasal sinuses. For each study subject, three methods of irrigation were used: irrigation using positive-pressure irrigation, irrigation using negative-pressure irrigation, and irrigation using a nebulizer. For each subject, three-dimensional computer reconstructions of the irrigated paranasal sinus airspaces were used to compare contrast solution volume and distribution achieved by the three methods.
Results: Of the three methods used, two methods, positive-pressure and negative-pressure irrigation, distributed contrast solution widely to ethmoid and maxillary sinuses, but distribution of contrast solution was more uniform using positive-pressure irrigation than using negative-pressure irrigation. The nebulization method distributed contrast solution poorly and resulted in a significantly lower volume of retained contrast solution (P <.05).
Conclusion: Judged solely on the basis of solution distribution in the nasal sinuses, nasal irrigation is effective when either positive-pressure or negative-pressure irrigation is used but is ineffective when a nebulizer is used.