Patient-Reported Outcome Measures and Provocative Testing in the Workup of Empty Nose Syndrome—Advances in Diagnosis: A Systematic Review

Amarbir S. Gill, Mena Said, Travis T. Tollefson, E. Bradley Strong, Jayakar V. Nayak, Toby O. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The last 5 years have seen a surge of both clinical and scientific interest in empty nose syndrome (ENS). Although ENS is still considered a controversial diagnosis plagued by a lack of standardized diagnostic criteria, ENS is increasingly becoming recognized as a legitimate, physiologic disease entity. As such, it is important for clinicians to understand the most up-to-date diagnostic tools to assess ENS, confirm the diagnosis, and create a more standardized means to counsel these complex patients. Objective: Contemporary literature review to discuss diagnostic modalities in the evaluation of ENS, in order to introduce evidence-based diagnostic criteria. Methods: A systematic review was conducted in PubMed and Embase (2013–2019) using the search term “empty nose syndrome” to identify peer-reviewed articles on the topic of ENS. Articles advancing contemporary methods of ENS diagnosis and testing were included. A quality assessment was conducted using The Rational Clinical Examination Levels of Evidence. Results: The novel development of the Empty Nose Syndrome 6 Questionnaire (ENS6Q) offers the clinician a validated patient-reported outcome measure to supplement history and physical examination. The in-office cotton test, performed by placing an endoscopically directed cotton plug in the site of tissue loss, may help to identify patients who may benefit from turbinate augmentation. Tools such as the sinus computed tomography scan, computational fluid dynamics, and intranasal trigeminal nerve function testing currently have insufficient evidence to support routine use in the workup of ENS. Up to 66% of ENS patients present with comorbid anxiety or depression. Conclusion: The ENS6Q and cotton test assist in creating a standardized approach to the evaluation of patients suspected of ENS. These instruments should be used as an adjunct, rather than the sole criteria, on which to ascertain the presumptive diagnosis. Patients suspected of ENS should be screened for comorbid psychological dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology and Allergy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Empty Nose Syndrome 6 Questionnaire
  • anxiety
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • cotton test
  • depression
  • diagnosis
  • empty nose syndrome
  • intranasal trigeminal function testing
  • nasal obstruction
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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