The Unified Airway: Does Asthma Influence Paranasal Sinus Pneumatization?

Ear Nose Throat J. 2020 Feb;99(2):89-93. doi: 10.1177/0145561319848992. Epub 2019 May 7.


Asthma has been implicated as a driving force in lower airway remodeling; however, its effect on upper airway development has not been studied. Clinical disease, particularly cystic fibrosis (CF), has been associated with anatomical paranasal sinus variation, although the mechanism for these variations remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine whether asthma is associated with altered sinus pneumatization. Five hundred ninety-one computed tomography scans, including 303 adolescents (age 13-18) and 288 adults (age > 18), were evaluated using the Assessment of Pneumatization of the Paranasal Sinuses (APPS) instrument. The APPS score is validated for assessing anatomical variation and total sinus volume. A diagnosis of asthma was ascertained from the medical record, and patients with CF were included as a positive control group. Patients with asthma had mean APPS score of 9.66, compared to 9.85 for participants without asthma (P = .585). Subgroup analysis demonstrated similar findings among adults (P = .817) and adolescents (P = .585). Patients with a diagnosis of CF had significant sinus hypoplasia according to a mean APPS scores of 3.50 (P < .001). Sinus hypoplasia persisted in both adults (P < .001) and adolescents (P < .001) with CF. The presence of asthma is not associated with altered paranasal sinus pneumatization. In contrast, CF is associated with significantly reduced sinus pneumatization. These findings suggest that aberrant sinus pneumatization may not be a feature of asthma and that chronic mucosal respiratory disease is not a generalizable cause for altered paranasal sinus pneumatization.

Keywords: asthma; chronic sinusitis; computed tomography; cystic fibrosis; paranasal sinuses.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Remodeling*
  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Paranasal Sinuses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Paranasal Sinuses / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult