What are the benefits of sinus surgery that we don’t normally think about?

Chronic rhinosinusitis is a common condition affecting over 11 million Americans, resulting in 18.3 million physician office visits, 11.5 million lost workdays, and has a direct annual cost of $8.6 billion. Studies have shown that patients with chronic sinusitis have lower overall and disease-specific quality of life.

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery has been an effective approach for appropriately selected patients with sinus disease for many decades. Typically, surgery is reserved for patients with chronic sinus disease (lasting > 2 months) who have exhausted medically-directed approaches. These include saline irrigation, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, oral steroids, oral antibiotics, and oral antihistamines, etc.

We all know the typical symptoms of chronic sinusitis. These include:

  • Facial pain/pressure
  • Nasal congestion
  • Smell changes
  • Post-nasal drainage
  • Tooth pain/sensitivity
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Ear pain

Treating sinusitis will definitely help these symptoms. But what other benefits might patients experience?

It has been shown that 75% of patients with chronic sinusitis suffer from poor sleep quality. There is a direct correlation: The worse the sinus disease, the worse the sleep quality. A recent study looked into whether or not sinus surgery could improve sleep quality in adult chronic sinusitis sufferers:

Sleep and quality of life improvements after endoscopic sinus surgery in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. Alt JA1, Smith TL, Schlosser RJ, Mace JC, Soler ZM. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2014 Sep;4(9):693-701.

In the study, the majority of patients in this study with chronic sinusitis reported poor sleep quality (72%). Different surveys and questionnaires were then employed to assess sleep quality before and after sinus surgery. Sleep scores improved with regard to every measured parameter. However, the level to which they improved still fell in to the poor sleep zone. The surgery simply made the poor sleep less poor. This is still very important news and yet another reason to consider sinus surgery if you have chronic sinusitis and sleep issues.

Another benefit is an economical one.

The following paper looked at the cost effectiveness of sinus surgery versus continuing only medical strategies. Interestingly, the study found that sinus surgery ended up saving money over the medical approach within the 3rd year after surgery. This is important for those of us considering the overall costs involved in medical care. This is clearly an area where money can be saved by taking the surgical approach, helping the patient and utilization of health care resources.

Economic evaluation of endoscopic sinus surgery versus continued medical therapy for refractory chronic rhinosinusitis. Rudmik L, Soler ZM, Mace JC, Schlosser RJ, Smith TL. Laryngoscope. 2014 Sep 3.