Effects of buffered saline solution on nasal mucociliary clearance and nasal airway patency

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004 Nov;131(5):679-82. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2004.05.026.


Objective: To compare the effects of buffered hypertonic and buffered normal saline nasal spray on mucociliary clearance and nasal airway patency.

Study design and setting: Double-blind trial with subjects acting as their own controls. Tertiary care academic medical center.

Results: Buffered hypertonic saline and buffered normal saline both improved saccharine clearance times ( P < 0.0001 for buffered hypertonic and P = 0.002 for buffered normal saline). Buffered hypertonic saline improved saccharine clearance times more than buffered normal saline (39.6% vs 24.1%, P = 0.007). Neither buffered hypertonic nor buffered normal saline significantly affected nasal airway patency.

Conclusions: Both buffered hypertonic and buffered normal saline nasal spray significantly improved saccharine clearance times without affecting nasal airway patency. Buffered hypertonic saline affected saccharine clearance times to a greater degree than buffered normal saline.

Clinical significance: Buffered hypertonic and buffered normal saline sprays both improve mucociliary clearance and should therefore be beneficial in conditions such as rhinitis and sinusitis, which are associated with disruption of mucociliary clearance. However, these sprays do not appear to affect the nasal airway. Patients may therefore benefit from other treatments for "nasal congestion."

Ebm rating: B-2.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Buffers
  • Humans
  • Mucociliary Clearance / drug effects*
  • Nasal Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasal Obstruction / drug therapy
  • Rhinometry, Acoustic
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage*
  • Ultrasonography


  • Buffers
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic
  • Sodium Chloride