BACKGROUND - Olfactory dysfunction is 1 of the hallmark symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Eosinophilic inflammation has been implicated as a potential causative factor. However, prior studies have been limited by retrospective study designs, concomitant use of systemic corticosteroids, and other confounding factors.
METHODS - CRS and healthy non-CRS control subjects undergoing endoscopic sinus or skull-base surgery were prospectively enrolled and completed olfactory testing utilizing the 40-item Smell Identification Test (SIT) immediately prior to surgery. Histopathological evaluation of tissue excised from the ethmoid bulla was performed by a pathologist in a blinded fashion. Disease severity and patient-reported outcomes were measured via the Lund-Mackay computed tomography (CT) grading system and 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22), respectively. The associations between olfactory function, tissue eosinophilia, and disease severity were analyzed using Spearman rank order correlation and multiple linear regression.
RESULTS - Twenty-seven (27) subjects with CRS without nasal polyps (CRSsNP), 32 subjects with CRS with nasal polyps (CRSwNP), and 10 healthy non-CRS controls were enrolled. CRSwNP was associated with higher mean tissue eosinophil counts (71.6 vs 28.1 eosinophils/high-power field [HPF], p < 0.05) and lower age/sex-adjusted SIT scores (-17.4 vs -6.2, p < 0.001) when compared to CRSsNP. SIT scores were strongly negatively correlated with tissue eosinophil counts in CRSwNP (r = -0.60, p = 0.0003), but not CRSsNP (r = 0.16, p = 0.42). The correlation between olfactory function and tissue eosinophilia in CRSwNP persisted after adjusting for disease severity.
CONCLUSION - Tissue eosinophilia is associated with olfactory loss in CRSwNP, independent of disease severity. These results suggest a possible role for eosinophils or eosinophil-associated cytokines in CRS-associated olfactory loss.
© 2017 ARS-AAOA, LLC.