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Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2010 May-Jun;24(3):169-74. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2010.24.3462.

The impact of biofilms on outcomes after endoscopic sinus surgery.

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  • 1Department of Surgery-Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 28 Woodville Road, Woodville South, South Australia 5011, Australia.



Although biofilms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), there is little evidence that their presence or absence has any effect on the outcomes of endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of biofilms on postsurgical outcomes after ESS.


A prospective, blinded study of 51 consecutive patients undergoing ESS for CRS was conducted. Preoperatively, patients assessed their symptoms using internationally accepted standardized symptom scoring systems and quality-of-life (QOL) measures, i.e., the 10-point Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Sino-Nasal-Outcome-Test 20, and global severity of CRS. Their sinonasal mucosa was graded using the Lund-Kennedy scale and the extent of radiological disease on computed tomography scans was scored using the Lund-McKay scale. Random sinonasal tissue samples were assessed for biofilm presence using confocal laser microscopy. At each postoperative visit, patients reassessed their sinus symptoms and completed QOL measures. Postsurgical state of their sinonasal mucosa was graded endoscopically.


Bacterial biofilms were found in 36 of 51 (71%) CRS patients. Patients with biofilms presented with significantly worse preoperative radiology and nasendoscopy scores (p = 0.003 and 0.01, respectively). After a median follow-up period of 16 months postsurgery, biofilm-positive patients had statistically worse sinus symptoms (VAS, p = 0.002) and worse nasendoscopy scores (p = 0.026). They also required extra postoperative visits and multiple antibiotic treatments deviating from the standard postoperative care required by biofilm-negative patients.


This study has shown that patients with biofilms have more severe disease preoperatively and persistence of postoperative symptoms, ongoing mucosal inflammation, and infections. This study strengthens the evidence for the role that biofilms may play in recalcitrant CRS.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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