Background: Evidence-based medicine calls for a critical evaluation of the scientific evidence for treatments of disease. This report synthesizes the available evidence on the use of endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS) in the management of adult chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) examining the clinical question: "In adults with CRS who have failed medical management, does ESS improve symptoms and/or quality of life (QOL)?" Methods: The American Rhinologic Society and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery convened a steering committee composed of the authors. Primary research articles evaluated for this report were identified using appropriate search terms and a Medline search. Two authors independently reviewed each article. Articles were assigned an evidence level based on accepted guidelines (level 1 = randomized trials; level 2 = prospective cohort studies with comparison group; level 3 = case-control studies; level 4 = retrospective case series; level 5 = expert opinion). Results: We identified 886 abstracts to review, retrieved 75 articles for full review, and included 45 articles in our report. The vast majority of articles represented level 4 evidence (n = 42) and two articles represented level 5 evidence. One article was identified that qualified for level 2 evidence. All of these articles generally supported the finding that ESS improves symptoms and/or QOL in adult patients with CRS. Conclusion: There is substantial level 4 evidence with supporting level 2 evidence that ESS is effective in improving symptoms and/or QOL in adult patients with CRS. Future research efforts should focus on prospective studies that include appropriate comparison groups in their design.
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