Objectives: Calcium alginate is a biodegradable gel-transforming agent widely used for nasal packing. It can reduce pain and improve comfort. However, few randomised controlled trials have compared the efficacy of calcium alginate nasal packing with that of other biodegradable gel-transforming materials. Design: Prospective, randomised, single-blinded controlled study. Setting: Yonsei University Severance Hospital, a tertiary academic medical centre. Participants: Twenty-seven patients (54 nostrils) with chronic rhinosinusitis who were scheduled for bilateral endoscopic sinus surgery were enrolled. After surgery, one nostril was packed with calcium alginate and the other with carboxymethyl cellulose. Only patients with an intersinus chronic rhinosinusitis severity score difference of ≤1 were included. Main outcome measures: Visual analogue scale (VAS) scores for postoperative pain, discomfort from nasal discharge and pain during packing removal were analysed. Two independent rhinologists who were blinded to the assessments separately scored adhesions, oedema and infection by endoscopic digital photography at 1, 4 and 8 weeks postoperatively. Results: There were no significant differences in VAS scores for postoperative pain, discomfort from nasal discharge or pain during packing removal between calcium alginate packings and carboxymethyl cellulose packings. Inter-rater variability of adhesion, oedema and infection scores was acceptable. Adhesion severity and oedema scores at 4 weeks were significantly lower with calcium alginate packing than with carboxymethyl cellulose. Infection severity scores also tended to be lower with calcium alginate than with carboxymethyl cellulose, but the difference was not significant. Conclusions: Calcium alginate nasal packing is associated with reduced severity of oedema and adhesions after endoscopic sinus surgery.
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