Oral steroids for nasal polyps

Pablo Martinez-Devesa, Shalini Patiar
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, (7): CD005232

BACKGROUND: This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in The Cochrane Library in Issue 1, 2007.Benign nasal polyps are lesions that arise from the mucosa of the nasal cavity or one or more of the nasal sinuses. The presenting symptoms are nasal obstruction, watery anterior rhinorrhoea (excessive nasal secretions) or mucopurulent postnasal drip (or both), hyposmia and anosmia (reduced or absent sense of smell) with a concomitant alteration in taste and infrequently pain over the dorsum of the nose, forehead and cheeks. The main aim of treatment is to relieve these symptoms. The aetiology of polyps is uncertain, therefore treatment options differ, consisting of a combination of medical and surgical management. Medical therapy is mainly in the form of steroids, administered topically or systemically via the oral route.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of oral steroids in patients with multiple nasal polyps.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Trials Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); PubMed; EMBASE; CINAHL; Web of Science; BIOSIS Previews; Cambridge Scientific Abstracts; ISRCTN and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the most recent search was 12 October 2010, following a previous search in April 2006.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials and controlled clinical trials comparing oral steroids with no intervention, or placebo, or comparing doses or schedules of oral steroids in patients with multiple nasal polyps.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed study quality. We contacted study authors for additional information.

MAIN RESULTS: Three trials (166 patients) met our inclusion criteria and showed a short-term benefit of a short (two to four-week) course of oral steroids of variable doses and duration when compared to placebo. There was an objective reduction of polyp size and a subjective improvement of nasal symptoms and quality of life. However, due to the moderate to low quality of these trials it was not possible to quantify the overall size of this effect.There was no report of significant adverse effects of treatment with a short course of steroids.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The authors found three randomised controlled trials, albeit of moderate to poor quality, that suggest a short-term benefit of oral steroids in patients with multiple nasal polyps. To address the issue more thoroughly well-designed, prospective, randomised controlled trials are still needed.

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