Recurrent acute rhinosinusitis: a single blind clinical study of N-acetylcysteine vs ambroxol associated to corticosteroid therapy

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan-Mar;25(1):207-17. doi: 10.1177/039463201202500123.


The aim of rhinosinusitis treatment is to restore sinusal eutrophism and to normalize ventilation and mucociliary transport. Frequently the improvement of sinusal physiological conditions is associated with a reduction of infections and pulmonary symptoms. The treatment of these diseases often requires the combination of medical and surgical strategies. In particular, the aim of the medical therapy is multiple: to treat the infection (with antibiotics), to reduce the mucosal swelling (with corticosteroids) and to improve mucus drainage (with mucolytics or muco-regulators). The use of atomized nasal douche, as a washing of the nasal fossas, is chosen because of its local action minimizing systemic adverse effects. The surgical treatment is secondary to medical failure, and it is focused on clearing the sinusal ostia in the sphenoethmoidal recess and the osteomeatal complex. In case of recurrent sinonasal diseases the importance of the surgical operation is represented by the fact that the medical treatment better reaches the target in the sinusal space. This study is focused on the primary medical treatment of acute recurrent rhinosinusitis. The patients who immediately needed surgical treatment were excluded from the study (because of the presence of an anatomical obstruction of the osteomeatal complex and/or the sphenoethmoidal recess, hence non-susceptible to improvement by medical therapy alone), and these patients were immediately addressed to undergo a CT scan examination in order to be involved in a future surgical programme. The medical treatment for those forms which do not require antibiotics (i.e. when infections are not involved), is based on the use of topical corticosteroids. While there are controversies on the real efficacy of adding mucolytic agents to the steroids, they are commonly prescribed in clinical practice, with the rationale of reducing viscosity and improving clearance of mucus in order to help the restoration of the physiological sinus conditions. The primary aim of the medical treatment is to reduce the number of acute episodes and thus to increase the time between the exacerbations, allowing a good quality of life without necessitating surgical procedure.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / administration & dosage*
  • Acetylcysteine / adverse effects
  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambroxol / administration & dosage*
  • Ambroxol / adverse effects
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / administration & dosage
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / adverse effects
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Recurrence
  • Rhinitis / drug therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sinusitis / drug therapy*


  • Fluocinolone Acetonide
  • Ambroxol
  • flunisolide
  • Acetylcysteine