Nasal polyps: medical or surgical management?


Dr K. Holmberg, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Mölndal Hospital, S-431 80 Mölndal, Sweden.


Nasal polyposis is considered to be a non-IgE-mediated inflammatory condition of the nose and sinuses, often associated with chronic non-allergic rhinitis, aspirin intolerance and non-allergic asthma. The aetiology of nasal polyposis is unknown. The main symptoms are nasal obstruction and disturbance of the sense of smell. Occlusion of the nasal passage by a few large polyps could be treated by simple polypectomy to help lhe patient breathe through the nose. Polypectomy per se does not worsen asthma. Other surgical procedures can be performed, depending on the degree of the disease. The aim of surgery is to restore the physiological properties of the nose by making the nose as free from polyps as possible. and to allow drainage of infected sinuses. Complementary medical treatment of polyphonies is always necessary, as surgery cannot treat the inflammatory component of the mucosal disease. In this respect, topical corticosteroids have long been the drugs of choice to reduce the size of polyps, to prevent recurrence after surgery, and are often the main treatment for the disease in many patients. Fluticasone propionate has now been shown to be at least as effective as beclomethasone dipropionate as a medical tool in the management of polyposis. Short-term treatment with systemic corticosteroids is an alternative method of inducing remission and controlling nasal polyps. However, in mosl patients with nasal polyps, treatment consists of both medical and surgical management.