When do the risks of repeated courses of corticosteroids exceed the risks of surgery?

Randy M. Leung, Keith Dinnie, Timothy L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: The management of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (CRSwNP) becomes unclear when patients require multiple courses of corticosteroids to maintain quality of life. Repeated courses of corticosteroids carry increased risks to patients. Although endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS) is an effective therapeutic modality, it also carries inherent risks. This study aims to identify the threshold at which the risks of repeated courses of corticosteroid exceed the risks of surgery. Methods: An evidence-based risk analysis was simulated using literature-reported complication rates, quality of life changes, and Medicare costs. Simulations were performed from the Medicare patient perspective, societal perspective, and the universal healthcare patient perspective. Results: All 3 simulations demonstrate a breakeven threshold favoring surgery over medical therapy when patients require oral corticosteroids (OCS) more often than once every 2 years in CRSwNP, once per year in CRSwNP/asthma, or twice per year for Samter's triad patients. Conclusion: This represents the first rationalized evidence-based analysis for when surgery should be considered in place of repeated courses of oral corticosteroids. This threshold provides a guide for otolaryngologists to use when making clinical decisions with patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-876
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Corticosteroids
  • Health economics
  • Nasal polyps
  • Risk analysis
  • Samter's triad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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