Should Oral Corticosteroids be Used in Medical Therapy for Chronic Rhinosinusitis? A Risk Analysis

Randy M. Leung, Timothy L. Smith, Robert C. Kern, Rakesh K. Chandra, Rodney J. Schlosser, Richard J. Harvey, David B. Conley, John M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Oral corticosteroid (OCS) as a part of appropriate medical therapy (AMT) (formerly maximal medical therapy) in chronic rhinosinusitis remains controversial. While the risks of OCS are well known, the benefit remains unclear due the absence of a standardized prescribing regimen. Consequently, it is difficult to characterize whether the risks of OCS and its ability to avert endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS) are helpful in AMT. When OCS is highly effective at averting surgery, the lesser risks of OCS would be justified because it can avoid the greater risks of ESS. When OCS is poorly effective at averting ESS, the risks of OCS would not be justified because many patients will be exposed to both risks. This study seeks to identify the threshold effectiveness of OCS at averting ESS that would minimize risk exposure to patients. Methods: A probabilistic risks-based decision analysis was constructed from literature reported incidences and impacts of adverse events of OCS and ESS. Monte Carlo analysis was performed to identify the minimum effectiveness required to avoid further intervention (MERAFI) for chronic sinusitis without nasal polyp (CRSsNP) and chronic sinusitis with nasal polyp (CRSwNP). Results: The analysis showed MERAFI results of 20.8% (95% CI 20.7–20.9%) for CRSsNP and 16.8% (95% CI 16.7–16.9%) for CRSwNP. Conclusions: Given reported OCS effectiveness in the range of 34–71% in CRSsNP and 46–63% in CRSwNP, this analysis suggests that the inclusion of OCS in AMT may be the lower risk strategy. Level of Evidence: N/A Laryngoscope, 131:473–481, 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-481
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Risk analysis, chronic rhinosinusitis, oral corticosteroid, endoscopic sinus surgery, evidence-based medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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