• Sinusitis;
  • headache;
  • dry upper respiratory tract syndrome;
  • treatment outcome


Objectives Chronic rhinosinusitis restricts the quality of life of millions of involved patients. The aim of the study was to evaluate how functional endoscopic sinus surgery modifies patients symptom profiles and quality of life.

Study Design Open prospective clinical trial.

Methods Questionnaires were given to 279 patients included in the series, who underwent sinus surgery at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Cologne (Cologne, Germany) from 1995 to 1999. Patients assessed typical chronic rhinosinusitis–associated symptoms and restricted quality of life preoperatively and postoperatively using ranking scales (scales ranging from no to intolerable complaints). Statistical analyses were performed with the Wilcoxon test and Spearman rank correlation coefficient.

Results Quality of life was restricted by chronic rhinosinusitis in 94% of all patients preoperatively and ranked as severe or intolerable in 74%. Leading symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis were nasal obstruction in 92% and postnasal drip in 87%. Furthermore, patients reported dry upper respiratory tract syndrome in 68%, hyposmia in 66%, headache in 64%, and asthmatic complaints in 34%. After a mean postoperative follow-up of 31.7 months, an amelioration of quality of life was achieved in 85%, no change in 12%, and a deterioration in 3%. The ranking of restricted quality of life improved from “severe” to “mild” (P <.01) in the mean. Mainly responsible for this improvement was the postoperative decrease of nasal obstruction (84%), headache (82%), and postnasal drip (78%) (all P <.01), which correlated significantly with nasal obstruction (r = 0.59), headache (r = 0.39), and postnasal drip (r = 0.55), respectively (all P <.01) with better quality of life.

Conclusions The leading complaints within the symptom profile of patients with chronic rhinosinusitis are airway obstruction and postnasal drip. The restriction of quality of life in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis is mainly caused by these symptoms, which can be improved in excellent fashion by functional endoscopic sinus surgery in the majority of patients, achieving better quality of life in the long term.