Long-term treatment outcomes in refractory rhinitis medicamentosa managed with nasal surgery

William Li*, Shibalik Misra, Richard John Harvey, Larry Kalish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Limited treatment options exist for refractory Rhinitis Medicamentosa (RM). The role of surgery after failed medical management is not well defined. Mucosal contact points and restricted airflow often perpetuate decongestant use. This study assessed the long-term outcomes of nasal surgery in patients with refractory RM. Methods: A prospective cohort study of refractory RM treated with nasal surgery was performed with ≥12 months follow-up. Refractory RM was defined as nasal decongestant use once per day continuously for ≥4 weeks despite medical therapy. Patients with concomitant sinus disease and nonrhinitis conditions were excluded. Sinonasal Outcome Test (SNOT22), Nasal Symptom Score (NSS), and nasal medication use were assessed. Patients who ceased decongestants were compared with ongoing users. Results: A total of 56 patients (age 48.4 [5.0] years, 50% female) were assessed. Median follow-up was 3.4(1.6–6.2) years. Total cessation of decongestants was achieved in 91.1%, while 5.4% had intermittent use, and 3.6% reported daily use. Ongoing users had higher odds of concomitant asthma (40.0% vs. 3.9%; odds ratio [OR], 16.33 [1.7–159.75]; p = 0.036), reduced symptom improvement (ΔSNOT22, -4.6 [15.7] vs. 27.1 [17], p = 0.009 and ΔNSS, -1.0 [4.2] vs. -6.6 [5.1], p = 0.025), and greater ongoing use of nasal corticosteroid (60.0% vs. 5.9%; OR 24.0 [2.8–203.1]) and saline sprays (40% vs. 3.9%; OR 16.3 [1.7–159.8]) but showed no difference in allergy status (OR, 0.7[0.1–7.1]), previous surgery (OR, 1.0[0.1–10.2]), gastroesophageal reflux (OR 1.0[0.1–10.2], or underlying anxiety/depression (OR 6.1[0.8–45.9]) compared with those who ceased. Conclusion: Surgically re-establishing a nasal airway was associated with long-term decongestant cessation and symptom improvement in medically refractory RM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • decongestive agent
  • nose surgery
  • rhinitis
  • Sinonasal Outcome Test-22


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