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Absence of evidence for enhanced benefit of antibiotic therapy on recurrent acute rhinosinusitis episodes: a systematic review of the evidence base.

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the evidence base on the effectiveness of short-course antibiotic therapy in adult patients with a recurrent episode of acute rhinosinusitis as part of a disease pattern on severity and duration of symptoms and recurrences.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library.

REVIEW METHODS: A comprehensive search was performed up to March 21, 2013. Articles reporting studies on the effects of short-course antibiotic therapy compared with placebo in patients with recurrent acute rhinosinusitis were included. For included articles, the design of reported studies was assessed for directness of evidence and risk of bias.

RESULTS: In total, 3473 unique publications were retrieved, of which 30 were considered eligible based on title and abstract screening. In addition, 8 eligible articles were retrieved using cross-reference checking. Based on full-text evaluation, none of the retrieved 38 articles satisfied our predefined selection criteria. They did not compare antibiotic treatment with placebo, excluded patients with recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, or did not report findings for a subgroup of patients with recurrent acute rhinosinusitis.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION: To date, there is no evidence available on differences in effect of antibiotic therapy in primary or sporadic and recurrent episodes of acute rhinosinusitis. As such, decisions for or against initial antibiotic therapy in patients with recurring episodes of acute rhinosinusitis should be based on the same criteria used in managing primary or sporadic episodes of uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis.

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