Distribution of topical agents to the paranasal sinuses: An evidence-based review with recommendations

W. Walsh Thomas, Richard J. Harvey, Luke Rudmik, Peter H. Hwang, Rodney J. Schlosser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The objective of this work was to review the literature concerning the distribution of topical therapeutics to the sinuses versus nasal cavity regarding: surgical state, delivery device, head position, and nasal anatomy and to provide evidence-based recommendations. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using Medline, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases to perform a Medical Subject Heading search of the literature from 1946 until the last week of May 2012. Articles were independently reviewed and graded for level of evidence. All authors came to consensus on recommendations through an iterative process. Results: Recommendations were made for: improved sinus delivery with high-volume devices and after standard sinus surgery. Recommendations were made against low-volume delivery devices, such as drops, sprays, or simple nebulizers as they do not reliably reach the sinuses. If large-volume devices are not tolerated, low-volume devices are recommended using the lying head back or lateral head low positions to improve nasal cavity distribution to the middle meatus or olfactory cleft. Conclusion: Surgery, volume of device, head position, and nasal anatomy were shown to impact distribution to the sinuses. Recommendations are made based upon this evidence as to how to best maximize therapeutic distribution to the sinuses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-703
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Irrigation
  • Nebulizer
  • Sinusitis
  • Spray
  • Surgery
  • Therapies
  • Topical


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