Establishing a threshold for surgery in recurrent acute rhinosinusitis: a productivity-based analysis

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 May;146(5):829-33. doi: 10.1177/0194599811434709. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Objective: Treatment of recurrent acute rhinosinusitis (RARS) has 2 effective modalities: medical therapy with exacerbations or surgery to reduce the frequency and severity of infections. However, it is unclear when one therapy should be recommended over the other. This study seeks to identify a threshold number of infections where the morbidity of surgery is offset by the morbidity of RARS.

Study design: Health economic breakeven threshold analysis.

Setting: Clinical otolaryngology practice.

Subjects: None.

Methods: A model of productivity was constructed to simulate the first 1 to 3 years after surgery using literature reported rates of medical and surgical response rates, quality of life, and productivity.

Results: Based on lost productivity, the lost time for the postoperative period balances out when patients suffer from 4 episodes per year (range, 1.8-12.8).

Conclusion: Because of possible confusion with upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), the authors have adopted an approach similar to that adopted by the Rhinosinusitis Task Force (RTF). Given the average number of URTIs suffered by adults annually is 1.4 to 2.3, they suggest adding 2 to the threshold number of episodes similar to the RTF guideline for RARS. From a productivity perspective, surgical intervention may be a viable consideration if patients have suffered from 6 episodes per year. However, the effects of surgery are expected to last longer than the 19 months observed in the literature, implying that the breakeven threshold is likely lower than projected. Discussion with the patient must include a rational consideration of the burden of disease, overall patient quality of life, and risks of surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic*
  • Office Visits / economics
  • Postoperative Complications / economics
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Rhinitis / economics*
  • Rhinitis / surgery*
  • Sick Leave / economics
  • Sinusitis / economics*
  • Sinusitis / surgery*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents