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Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1002/alr.22299. [Epub ahead of print]

Use of intranasal submucosal fillers as a transient implant to alter upper airway aerodynamics: implications for the assessment of empty nose syndrome.

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Division of Rhinology, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA.
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is a debilitating condition associated with inferior turbinate tissue loss. Surgical augmentation of the inferior meatus has been proposed to treat ENS, although efficacy data with validated, disease-specific questionnaires is limited. Instead we evaluated submucosal injection of a transient, resorbable filler into the inferior meatus to favorably alter nasal aerodynamics in ENS patients.


Patients with a history of inferior turbinate reduction, diagnosed with ENS via Empty Nose Syndrome 6-Item Questionnaire (ENS6Q) and cotton testing, were enrolled and underwent submucosal injection of carboxymethylcellulose/glycerin gel (Prolaryn®) into the inferior meatuses between July 2014 and May 2018. This material likely resorbs over several months. Outcomes included comparisons of preinjection and postinjection symptoms at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months using the ENS6Q, 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22), Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).


Fourteen patients underwent injections. Mean ENS6Q scores significantly decreased from baseline at 1 week (20.8 vs 10.5; p < 0.0001), and remained reduced but upward-trending at 1 month (13.7, p = 0.002) and 3 months (15.5, p > 0.05) following injections. Mean SNOT-22 scores significantly decreased at 1 week (p = 0.01) and 1 month (p = 0.04), mean GAD-7 at 1 month (p = 0.02) and 3 months (p = 0.02), and mean PHQ-9 at 1 week (p = 0.01) and 1 month (p = 0.004) postinjection.


Transient, focal airway bulking via submucosal filler injection at sites of inferior turbinate tissue loss markedly benefits ENS patients, suggesting that aberrant nasal aerodynamics from inferior turbinate tissue loss contributes to (potentially reversible) ENS symptoms.


ENS; alloderm; anxiety; carboxymethylcellulose/glycerin; depression; empty nose syndrome; implant, upper airway; inferior meatus augmentation; management


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