Impact of Draf III, Draf IIb, and Draf IIa frontal sinus surgery on nasal irrigation distribution

Henry P. Barham*, Christian A. Hall, Stephen C. Hernandez, Harry E. Zylicz, Megan M. Stevenson, Brittany A. Zito, Richard J. Harvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Delivery of topical pharmacotherapy to the paranasal sinuses remains integral to the management of chronic rhinosinusitis. The frontal sinus remains a difficult access site for irrigations, often limited by its position relative to the nostril and ethmoid sinus. In view of the previous demonstration of improved frontal sinus irrigation with Draf III vs Draf IIa, in this work we sought to evaluate topical access of Draf IIb relative to Draf IIa and Draf III modification of the frontal sinus outflow tract. Methods: Unfixed human cadaver heads were dissected using Draf IIa, Draf IIb, and Draf III frontal sinusotomies. Draf IIa, Draf IIb, and Draf III frontal sinusotomies were performed in progressive sequence on each cadaver head. Nasal irrigation fluid access to the frontal sinus was tested after each successive frontal sinus intervention. Irrigations were performed using Frankfort horizontal and vertex positioning. Blinded reviewers were then asked to evaluate nasal irrigation access based on an ordinal scale. Results: Eight cadaveric specimens (age, 78 ± 12.3 years; 62.5% female) were assessed. The greatest distribution scores were recorded by Draf III, then IIb, and then IIa (90.7% vs 81.3% vs 50.1%; p < 0.001). Similarly, the rate of lavage was greatest with Draf III (50% vs 12.5% vs 12.5%). Vertex positioning and increasing volume trended toward improved distribution but did not reach statistical significance. Conclusion: Adequate delivery of topical therapy to the paranasal sinuses by nasal irrigation remains critical in the postoperative state. Although increasing the dimensions of the frontal recess improves nasal irrigation delivery, the Draf III procedure provides the optimal delivery of pharmacotherapy in those with frontal sinus disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-52
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • chronic rhinosinusitis
  • distribution
  • frontal sinus
  • irrigation
  • sinusitis
  • topical therapy

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