Acute Exacerbations in Recurrent Acute Rhinosinusitis: Differences in Quality of Life and Endoscopy

Daniel M. Beswick, Noel F. Ayoub, Jess C. Mace, Alia Mowery, Peter H. Hwang, Timothy L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Research surrounding outcome differences for patients with recurrent acute rhinosinusitis (RARS) is scarce. This investigation explored quality of life (QOL) and sinonasal attributes in patients during acute episodes (AEs) and in-between AEs of RARS. Study Design: Retrospective outcomes research. Methods: Data from patients with RARS were collected from two academic institutions between 2009 and 2017 using prospective and retrospective methodology. During clinical presentation, subjects were classified as with or without an AEs using guideline definitions of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS). Between-group differences in 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22) survey and Lund-Kennedy (LK) endoscopy scores were assessed. Results: Four hundred twenty-three clinical visits from 202 patients were included. Visits during an AE (168/423, 40%) were associated with significantly worse SNOT-22 total scores compared to between AEs (255/423, 60%; median = 53.0 [interquartile range (IQR) = 24.0] vs. 34.0 [IQR = 29.5]) and all SNOT-22 subdomain scores (all P <.001). LK scores were available for 167 visits, with 56 (34%) completed during an AE. Compared to visits without an AE, endoscopy findings associated with an AE were less frequently normal (LK score = 0, 45% vs. 62%, P =.031) with worse median LK scores (2.0 [IQR = 4.0] vs. 0.0 [IQR = 2.0], P =.005). Conclusions: AEs are associated with significantly worse QOL and mildly worse endoscopic findings. Almost half of visits during AEs had negative endoscopy, identifying a disparity between patient symptoms and objective findings and calling into question alternative or concomitant diagnoses. Diagnostic criteria for ABRS or AEs in RARS do not require objective confirmation of inflammation, presenting a conundrum for clinicians. The potential for overdiagnosis of ABRS and AEs should be considered when determining the risk/benefit ratio of treatments for RARS. Level of Evidence: 2c Laryngoscope, 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E736-E741
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Recurrent acute rhinosinusitis
  • chronic disease
  • diagnosis
  • exacerbation
  • outcome assessment (healthcare)
  • patient-reported outcome measures
  • quality of life
  • sinusitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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