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Intranasal cautery for the management of adult epistaxis: systematic review

  • R W J Mcleod (a1), A Price (a1), R J Williams (a2), M E Smith (a3), M Smith (a4) and D Owens (a1)...



Cauterisation techniques are commonly used and widely accepted for the management of epistaxis. This review assesses which methods of intranasal cautery should be endorsed as optimum treatment on the basis of benefits, risks, patient tolerance and economic assessment.


A systematic review of the literature was performed using a standardised methodology and search strategy.


Eight studies were identified: seven prospective controlled trials and one randomised controlled trial. Pooling of data was possible from 3 studies, yielding a total of 830 patients. Significantly lower re-bleed rates were identified (p < 0.01) using electrocautery (14.5 per cent) when compared to chemical cautery (35.1 per cent). No evidence suggested that electrocautery was associated with more adverse events or discomfort. Limited evidence supported the use of a vasoconstrictor agent and operating microscope during the procedure. The included studies had considerable heterogeneity in terms of design and outcome measures.


Consistent evidence suggests that electrocautery has higher success rates than chemical cautery, and is not associated with increased complications or patient discomfort. Lower quality evidence suggests that electrocautery reduces costs and duration of hospital stay.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Robert Mcleod, ENT Department, University Hospital of Wales Main Building, Heath Park, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4XN, Wales, UK E-mail:


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Intranasal cautery for the management of adult epistaxis: systematic review

  • R W J Mcleod (a1), A Price (a1), R J Williams (a2), M E Smith (a3), M Smith (a4) and D Owens (a1)...


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