Epistaxis is a common condition as well as a frequent otolaryngologic emergency, with up to 60% of people experiencing one episode in their lifetime and 6% seeking medical attention. Treatment is controversial, with many options being available. We retrospectively reviewed the hospital course and management of 65 patients who experienced epistaxis from January 1, 1986, to October 31, 1991, to compare medical and surgical treatment methods. Fifty-one patients were managed medically. Of these, 36 patients required one treatment (group 1), 10 required multiple treatments (group 2), and seven required multiple admissions (group 3). The mean lengths of hospitalization were 3.27, 4.90, and 5.57 days respectively. Fourteen patients were managed surgically. The preoperative stay of nine patients who underwent unsuccessful medical management at our institution (group 4) was 3.9 days, with an average postoperative stay of 7.3 days. The difference in length of stay was statistically significant between surgical and medical groups and the postoperative stay of group 4 was different from the length of stay of group 1 patients. The remaining five patients were initially treated elsewhere (group 5). Seventeen (33.3%) medical and only 1 (7%) surgical patients underwent unsuccessful initial therapy. Complication rates were not statistically different for each group. Transfusion requirements were evaluated as a possible predictive factor. Eighteen patients (35.3%) in the medically managed group required transfusions, compared with 11 patients (78.6%) treated surgically (p < 0.01). The medical group received an average of 0.91 units, compared to the surgical group that received 2.93 units preoperatively (p < 0.01). Group 4 required the most preoperative transfusions (3.89). Hypertension, NSAID usage, and coumadin usage did not significantly increase the length of hospital stay in either surgically or medically treated patients. The majority of patients respond to simple nonsurgical measures. Patients who require multiple interventions over a 72- hour period to control hemorrhage and require three or more units of red blood cells should be considered for surgical intervention.
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