Objective: To identify any prospective, controlled trials providing objective evidence of a reduction in nasal airway resistance following nasal septal surgery, and to undertake a meta-analysis of available data.
Methods: A systematic review with meta-analysis of data was undertaken. A systematic review of the literature using a defined search strategy was conducted to identify papers that used objective methods of airway assessment to evaluate the benefit of septal surgery. Accepted techniques for objective airway assessment included acoustic rhinometry, active anterior rhinomanometry and peak nasal inspiratory airflow. Papers were included based on pre-defined criteria, which included standardization of techniques as outlined in the guidelines of the 1984 committee report on the standardization of rhinomanometry.
Results: We identified 942 articles, of which 13 were prospective studies evaluating the objective benefit of nasal septal surgery. Only three of these studies conformed to the inclusion criteria. A meta-analysis on these papers was performed using the Mantel–Haenszel method, and this demonstrated an overall reduction in nasal airway resistance following septal surgery for nasal obstruction (p=0.018).
Conclusions: The majority of studies evaluating the objective benefit of septal surgery did not conform to the recommendations of the committee report on the standardization of rhinomanometry. Only three prospective controlled trials, with pooled data from 141 cases, were identified for meta-analysis. The conclusions that can be drawn concerning objective improvement in airway function following nasal septal surgery are therefore limited. More long-term studies, adhering to standardized techniques, are needed to provide more convincing data.