Influence of long-term airflow deprivation on the dimensions of the nasal cavity: a study of laryngectomy patients using acoustic rhinometry

Ear Nose Throat J. 2007 Aug;86(8):488, 490-2.


We conducted a prospective study to investigate the long-term effect of nasal airflow deprivation on nasal dimensions after total laryngectomy. We evaluated 48 patients who had an initial diagnosis of laryngeal cancer; 6 were disqualified during follow-up, leaving us with data on 42 patients for our final analysis. Acoustic rhinometry was used to measure the minimum cross-sectional area (MCSA) and the volume of the nasal cavity on both the left and right sides before and after laryngectomy. In addition, patients underwent endoscopic nasal examinations and answered questionnaires pre- and postoperatively. At both the 1- and 2-year follow-ups, the mean MCSAs and the mean nasal volumes of both the left and right nostrils were significantly smaller than the preoperative values (p < 0.001). The endoscopic examinations revealed only a mild deterioration in the appearance of the nasal mucosa over the long term. Questionnaire responses obtained at the 2-year follow-up visit revealed that all 42 evaluable patients were experiencing a moderate degree of nasal obstruction while inhaling through the nose. Our data indicate that the dimensions of the nasal cavity appear to be substantially and permanently reduced after total laryngectomy. Our study had two important advantages over other similar studies. First, because ours was a prospective study, we were able to obtain preoperative data and use it to make postoperative comparisons of the same patients rather than using healthy controls as comparators. Second, we used acoustic rhinometry, while most other studies relied on anterior rhinoscopy or rhinomanometry, which are inferior methods ofmaking the evaluations in question. We believe that our findings represent a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the physiologic and functional alterations of the nasal cavity that occur as a result of a complete cessation of nasal airflow.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laryngectomy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity / metabolism*
  • Nasal Cavity / pathology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Respiration*
  • Rhinometry, Acoustic / methods*
  • Time Factors