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Nasal strips for evaluating and classifying valvular nasal obstruction.

BACKGROUND: A normal-appearing upper lateral cartilage (ULC) or lower lateral cartilage (LLC) may be functionally abnormal. The Cottle sign estimates obstruction but not its exact location. A test is needed that evaluates the ULC and LLC separately.

METHODS: The study included 30 patients with airway obstruction symptoms and signs referable only to the nasal valves. They received a Cottle test and a Breathe-Rite nasal strip to the middle third of the nose and again to the lower third (the rims). The patients were asked whether the strip made their inspiration better, worse, or no different and classified as BR 0 (no airway obstruction due to ULC/LLC dysfunction), BR I (improvement with the strip on the ULC), BR II (improvement with the strip on the LLC), or BR III (improvement with strips on both the ULC and the LLC, independently). All the patients underwent surgery involving spreader grafts, lateral crural struts, suture techniques, and the like. Correlations were sought between the BR classification, Cottle sign, and physical integrity of the ULC/LLC.

RESULTS: A total of 12 patients required internal valve correction, whereas 8 required external valve correction, and 10 required correction of both. The Cottle test was nonspecific because most patients in all the groups exhibited a positive Cottle. However, the BR classification was specific, correlating with functional outcomes for 27 of the 30 patients. The McNemar test showed a significant correlation (Χ(2) = 9.09091; P = 0.00257) between physical finding and BR score.

CONCLUSIONS: Inspiratory nasal function (related to ULC/LLC cartilages) is easily classified using nasal strips. The BR test is more specific and powerful than the Cottle test.

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