Corticosteroid nasal irrigations are more effective than simple sprays in a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trial for chronic rhinosinusitis after sinus surgery

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018 Apr;8(4):461-470. doi: 10.1002/alr.22093. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


Background: Persistent mucosal inflammation in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) often results in ongoing symptoms, recurrence of polypoid mucosa, infective exacerbations, and further systemic medication despite surgical intervention. Debate exists as to the most effective topical therapy in CRS.

Methods: The objective was to determine if corticosteroid delivered via a nasal irrigation or via a simple nasal spray would be more effective in controlling the symptoms and signs of CRS. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial over 12 months was performed between 3 tertiary rhinologic clinics. After sinus surgery, all patients performed a nasal irrigation followed by a nasal spray once a day for 12 months. Groups were defined by corticosteroid (2 mg mometasone) delivered by either spray or irrigation. The primary outcomes were patient-reported symptoms: visual analogue score (VAS) and 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22), a global rating of sinonasal function. Secondary outcomes were also recorded from radiology (Lund-Mackay score [LMS]) and endoscopic (Modified Lund-Kennedy score [mLKS]) assessments.

Results: A total of 44 patients were randomized (age 50.3 ± 13.0 years; 40.9% female). Overall, patients improved significantly from either intervention. However, the corticosteroid nasal irrigation group had greater improvement in nasal blockage (-69.91 ± 29.37 vs -36.12 ± 42.94; p = 0.029), a greater improvement on LMS (-12.07 ± 4.43 vs -7.39 ± 6.94; p = 0.031) and less inflammation on mLKS at 12 months (7.33 ± 11.55 vs 21.78 ± 23.37; p = 0.018). One-year posttreatment blockage, drainage, fever, and total VAS scores were all lower in the corticosteroid irrigation group.

Conclusion: In the setting of diffuse or patchy CRS disease, the use of corticosteroid delivered by nasal irrigation is superior to simple nasal spray in postsurgical patients.

Keywords: chronic rhinosinusitis; corticosteroid; intranasal spray, nasal polyps; irrigations; paranasal sinuses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Lavage*
  • Nasal Sprays*
  • Placebos
  • Rhinitis / drug therapy*
  • Rhinitis / surgery
  • Sinusitis / drug therapy*
  • Sinusitis / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Nasal Sprays
  • Placebos

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12612000866808