Use of Nasopharyngoscopy Severity Classification of Chronic Epipharyngitis and Its Application for Evaluating the Treatment Outcomes of Epipharyngeal Abrasive Therapy

Cureus. 2024 Feb 12;16(2):e54067. doi: 10.7759/cureus.54067. eCollection 2024 Feb.


Background Chronic epipharyngitis causes postnasal drip, pharyngeal pain, pharyngeal discomfort, headache, and shoulder stiffness. Additionally, autonomic nervous system symptoms such as dizziness, general fatigue, and sleeplessness may occur. It can also contribute to the development of focal diseases. Although epipharyngeal abrasive therapy (EAT) is effective for chronic epipharyngitis involving the abrasion of the epipharynx with a zinc chloride solution, there is a lack of clear diagnostic criteria, and treatment outcomes are rarely reported. Methodology A classification of the severity of chronic epipharyngitis was attempted in 154 cases based on nasopharyngeal endoscopic findings, with a subsequent examination of treatment outcomes using EAT. Diagnosis of chronic epipharyngitis involved identifying redness, swelling, postnasal drip, and crusting of the epipharyngeal mucosa. Severity classification relied on a four-point scale measuring the degree of redness and swelling, with additional points assigned for the presence of postnasal drip and crusting. This classification also served as a criterion for judging treatment effectiveness. The prevalence and improvement rate of black spots and granular changes were assessed through nasopharyngeal endoscopy with narrow-band imaging. Subjective symptoms were evaluated using before and after treatment questionnaires, employing a four-point scale for symptoms commonly associated with chronic epipharyngitis (headache, postnasal drip, nasal obstruction, pharyngeal discomfort, pharyngeal pain, shoulder stiffness, tinnitus, ear fullness, dizziness, cough, and sputum). A 10-point numerical rating scale (NRS) was used to assess the physical condition. Results Following EAT, the severity of nasopharyngeal endoscopic findings notably improved, with a 76.0% (117/154) improvement rate (remarkable improvement: 19.5% (30), improvement: 56.5% (87)). The improvement rate for the chief complaint reached 85.7% (132/154), demonstrating significant enhancement in the score for each symptom. NRS scores also improved at a rate of 76.0% (117/154). A significant correlation was observed between the improvement in local findings and chief complaints. The prevalence of black spots and granular changes before EAT was 83.8% (129/154) and 64.3% (99/154), exhibiting improvement rates of 65.9% (87/132) and 54.8% (57/104), respectively. Conclusions Nasopharyngeal endoscopy proves valuable for diagnosing and assessing the severity of chronic epipharyngitis, as well as evaluating treatment effectiveness. The findings indicate that EAT is an effective treatment for chronic epipharyngitis, with improvements in local findings correlating with enhancements in the chief complaint. This underscores the importance of employing aggressive EAT in managing patients with chronic epipharyngitis.

Keywords: chronic epipharyngitis; epipharyngeal abrasive therapy; narrow-band image; severity classification; zinc chloride.