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Greg Lester
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September 20, 2002

Surgery and Care Combo Alleviates Chronic Sinusitis

Treatment Relieves Debilitating Pain and Returns Sufferers to Normal Quality of Life

(Philadelphia, PA) - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that surgery combined with postoperative care can significantly improve the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands nationally who suffer from chronic sinusitis.

The results of the study, entitled Long-term Quality of Life Measures Following Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) are to be presented Sept. 21 at the annual meeting of the American Rhinologic Society in San Diego, Cal. The researchers have concluded that FESS, a surgery introduced to this country in 1985 by David W. Kennedy, MD, Chairman of Penn's Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, improves quality of life to normal levels within three years.

Sinusitis, a common and sometimes chronic and debilitating condition, causes severe inflammation of the membrane in one or more of the sinus cavities. Sinusitis affects approximately 30-35 million people a year, with indirect costs estimated to be approximately $6 billion.
Each year, approximately 250,000 surgeries are performed to alleviate the condition. When severe and chronic, it can enormously affect the quality of life, Kennedy, a co-author of the study, says.

"Sinusitis has been demonstrated to have a greater impact on certain aspects of quality of life than such conditions as asthma, angina, chronic pulmonary disease and chronic lower back pain; all of which are problems commonly thought of as more debilitating," explains Kennedy.

The researchers' study confirms what Kennedy has long suspected, that FESS can be a great help to those suffering from chronic sinusitis. "The majority of those with sinusitis do not have a crippling disease, but there is an under-recognized minority for whom the condition has a major life impact," says Kennedy. "There hasn't been a report which has highlighted the extent to which the condition gets better after FESS."

The study utilized a common survey of 36 questions for patients to rate their quality of life. Patients with chronic sinusitis reported significant differences in the areas of bodily pain, general health, social function, vitality and mental health when compared to those without the condition. Following surgery and postoperative therapy, patients reported a return to normal in these areas. Calling the results "very significant," Kennedy hails FESS as a boon for both patients and the state of health-care nationally. "This shows that surgery can have patients with the most chronic health care problem in the United States get back to normal within three years."

David W. Kennedy, MD, is also vice dean for professional services and a senior vice president at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

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