Purpose of review: The timing and role of surgery in the management of pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis (pCRS) remains unclear. This review attempts to summarize the existing literature regarding this topic.
Recent findings: pCRS is a complex clinical syndrome that results from multiple potential causes. Multimodal medical therapy is the accepted primary treatment. Adenoidectomy continues to be the appropriate first-line surgical therapy, and the addition of antral lavage or balloon dilation to this procedure may improve outcomes. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) in children is safe and effective in relieving symptoms in the majority of patients. Failure to respond to maximal medical therapy continues to be a commonly cited, although poorly defined, requisite for proceeding to surgery. Recent literature has been focused on the outcomes after FESS rather than specifically defining when this intervention should be considered. Nevertheless, the literature seems to continue to support FESS in children with persistent symptoms despite adenoidectomy and appropriate medical treatment for pCRS. As the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) may result from multiple underlying causes, clinicians must understand that the role and timing of surgery may vary with particular patients’ disease.
Summary: Surgical management of CRS in children continues to be a frequent topic of study in the otolaryngology literature. As recent research tends to be focused on outcomes after surgery, further prospective studies comparing surgical versus nonsurgical treatment of CRS will likely be required to better define indications for proceeding to surgery at all.