Application of a Novel 3D-Printed Nasal Plug as a Conservative Treatment for Empty Nose Syndrome

Laryngoscope. 2024 Mar 28. doi: 10.1002/lary.31414. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is commonly treated by surgery, albeit with limited success. Herein, we introduce our experience of applying a newly developed "3D-printed nasal plug" as an alternative conservative treatment modality.

Methods: This retrospective study included 20 patients (14 males, 6 females; mean age 46.5 ± 13.5 years) with ENS who underwent the application of the 3D-printed nasal plug at Asan Medical Center between June 2022 and May 2023. Symptom improvement was assessed by Empty Nose Syndrome 6-Item Questionnaire (ENS6Q) before and after applying the nasal plug. Clinical results, such as duration and frequency of plug use, discomfort, and level of satisfaction, were investigated.

Results: The mean follow-up duration was 40.3 ± 24.2 weeks. The average duration of nasal plug usage was 10.8 h per day and 5.3 days a week. The ENS6Q scores improved from 19.6 ± 4.6 to 6.8 ± 5.1 (mean reduction 12.8 ± 5.9) after 30 minutes of wearing. Symptom "nose feelings too open" was improved most by a score of 3.0 ± 1.5 (p < 0.001). Thirteen patients (65.0%) reported that the effectiveness of the plug, initially confirmed at the first wearing, was well maintained during the entire follow-up. Four patients (20.0%) wore the nasal plug uninterruptedly throughout the week, whereas nine patients (45.0%) wore it intermittently as needed. Frequently reported complaints with plug usage were 'displacement of the plug' and 'cosmetic concerns' about the visible hook portion.

Conclusion: A 3D-designed nasal plug can be a useful conservative treatment option for ENS patients.

Level of evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 2024.

Keywords: empty nose syndrome; nasal cavity; nasal prosthesis; three‐dimensional printing.