Background: The objective was to validate acoustic rhinometry (AR) in a nasal challenge with allergen.
Methods: Nasal response to allergen provocation was based on clinical and symptom scores, cross-sectional changes of the nasal mucosa as measured by AR with the Rhinoklack® system, and peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF), in atopic and nonatopic volunteers.
Results: After allergen challenge, mean variation in minimal cross-sectional area (ΔMCA), as measured by AR, or in peak nasal inspiratory flow (ΔPNIF) in nonatopic volunteers, was −0.4±14.3% and 5.2±15.7%, respectively, compared to baseline. This allowed the determination of a reaction threshold of −29% for ΔMCA and of −26% for ΔPNIF. All but one of the 30 atopic patients reached the AR reaction threshold, whereas all patients reached the PNIF reaction threshold. AR and PNIF closely correlated with clinical and symptom scores for nasal congestion, since there was no significant difference at reaction threshold between both methods.
Conclusions: In an allergen provocation test, AR appears to be as specific and sensitive as peak nasal inspiratory flow, with the advantage of being independent of the patient's active cooperation. Discrepancies between both methods emphasize the role of nasal cavity anatomy in measuring nasal congestion by AR.