Endoscopic sinus surgery does indeed relieve symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, according to the findings of a meta-analysis (Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;140:633-639). An estimated 200,000 such procedures are performed each year, but until now, there has been no meta-analysis of postoperative symptom relief. These results provide more information to clinicians regarding the risks and benefits of surgical intervention for this common problem.

Symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis typically include nasal obstruction, facial pain, postnasal discharge, headaches, and impaired sense of smell (hyposmia). According to internist Alexander C. Chester, MD, of Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., reports of symptom relief vary across studies, so he and his research team reviewed 21 studies involving 2,070 patients to evaluate improvements for each symptom.

An average of 13.9 months after endoscopic sinus surgery, all symptoms improved compared with their preoperative severity scores, with nasal obstruction taking top honors as most improved. Facial pain and postnasal discharge improved moderately, whereas hyposmia and headache improved the least.

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