"This tells us that we should not neglect sinus problems in the elderly; that if medicines don't work, we have a surgical technique that is not that invasive and results in good outcomes," says Dr. Stilianos E. Kountakis, otolaryngologist, vice chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology and a principal author on the study.

"There is a way to improve symptoms either with medicine or surgery if necessary, and it's worth pursuing because patients feel better overall and have better quality of life," he continues.

Kountakis and collaborators, led by Drs. J. Chris Colclasure and Charles W. Gross at the University of Virginia Health System, looked at 56 patients over age 60 who underwent functional endoscopic sinus surgery, which uses small cameras and monitors to approach sinuses through the nose and minimise trauma.

They found patients continued to report improvement in symptoms over the year following surgery, had few minor complications and no major complications, Dr. Kountakis says. The findings are comparable to studies of younger patient populations.

"We thought that maybe the endoscopic sinus surgery wouldn't be as effective because of the decreased efficiency of the sinuses that naturally occurs with age, but that wasn't the case. We thought maybe other medical problems, might make surgery less safe and effective, but that wasn't the case either," he says.

Instead they found 64 percent improvement in symptoms at three months, 73 percent improvement at six months and 75 percent improvement at 12 months, based on patient reports of their symptoms as well as physical exams.

After conservative treatment with no impact, a surgical approach through the nose can be used to remove obstructions and/or widen sinus passages. Typically patients will continue to need some type of medicine following surgery to help keep their condition in check.

MEDICA.de; Source: Medical College of Georgia