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Acta Otorhinolaryngol Belg. 2001;55(4):299-304.

Is septal deviation a risk factor for chronic sinusitis? Review of literature.

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  • 1Catholic University of Louvain, ENT and HNS Department, Cliniques Universitaires UCL de Mont-Godinne, Yvoir, Belgium. sté



The purpose of this work is to examine the role of septal deviation in adults in the pathogenesis of chronic sinusitis. This evaluation would allow a better understanding of the contributing factors to this pathology and would improve results in their management.


This review was based on a Medline research over English and French literature published between 1980 and May 2001. Twenty-five papers were scrutinized.


Few investigators examined the role of the deviated septum on sinus disease. Methodologies and results are often contradictory. Furthermore, these studies are mainly based on radiological imaging. In most studies, prevalence of septal deviation looks the same when having compared among patients with radiological rhinosinusitis and among general population. An increased incidence and severity of sinus disease correlated to an increasing angle of septal deviation in the ostiomeatal complex area is reported by Calhoun (7), Youssem (4), Matschke (18) et Elahi (20). One study (1) demonstrates a significant association between the shape of the nasal septum and the location of the sinus disease: septal crest is associated with homolateral sinusitis, "watch-glass shaped diformity" with controlateral sinusitis. Stammberger (21, 25) suggests a pathophysiological role of the septum through a mechanical obstruction on the ostiomeatal complex; Danese (1) and Blaugrund (19) by an alteration of the ciliary activity secondary to a modified air flow. Bachert (24) demonstrates a connection between septal deviation and antral ventilation.


This literature review cannot establish a definite role to the nasal septum neither as the pathogenesis of chronic sinusitis nor as a contributing factor. No relationship between septal surgery combined with sinus surgery, and the postoperative prognosis nor on the subjective comfort of patients can be demonstrated. Subsequently, it appears that performing septoplasty only aims at relieving nasal obstruction complaint or at improving surgical access to the ethmoïd sinus.

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