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Chronic Sinusitis Disease Program

The Massachusetts General Hospital Chronic Sinusitis Disease Program provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for patients with severe chronic sinusitis and/or nasal polyps.

A Major Referral Center

The Mass General Chronic Sinusitis Disease Program serves as a referral center for primary care providers and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. We help patients with suspected or confirmed cases of severe chronic sinusitis by:

  • Evaluating their allergies
  • Identifying the role of fungus, bacterial infection or immune deficiency
  • Exploring novel therapeutic approaches

Our allergy specialists share all treatment recommendations with the referring physician and return the patient to his or her care whenever possible. Severe chronic sinusitis generally requires lifelong medical management, which we are happy to coordinate with your referring physician.

What to Expect

At your first appointment, one of our allergists will complete a comprehensive evaluation that includes:

  • A review of your medical history, prior sinus CT scans and prior pathology reports (if you have had sinus surgery)
  • A physical examination
  • An evaluation of possible infectious and immunologic causes of your condition
  • An assessment of your immune function if you have a history of recurrent infections

Based on the results of your evaluation, your allergist likely will prescribe medication to manage your condition. In addition to antibiotics (the traditional approach for managing severe chronic sinusitis), we offer innovative and effective therapies, such as anti-fungal drugs and topical steroid medications.

At your subsequent visits, we frequently will perform a rhinoscopic examination (i.e. endoscopy of the nasal passages) to assess your response to treatment. Once we have stabilized your condition, we will review your progress with you periodically.

Our Team Approach Is a Major Advantage

Patients with severe chronic sinusitis benefit from our program's team approach to care. World-class clinicians from related specialties at Mass General, including pulmonology and infectious disease, are available to assist in diagnosis and treatment. We also partner with ENT specialists from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI)to evaluate patients with unusual infections or other complicated cases.

Although medication proves effective in most cases, about 25 percent of our patients require surgery to alleviate their symptoms. We may collaborate with MEEI specialists in making this decision and managing ongoing care, while ENT surgeons at the MEEI typically perform the operation.

About This Program

The Mass General Chronic Sinusitis Disease Program offers a full range of services at our downtown Boston campus.

Severe chronic sinusitis is an inflammatory condition of the sinuses in which symptoms last 12 weeks or longer. Patients with severe chronic sinusitis may also suffer from conditions such as:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal allergies
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Eosinophilic sinusitis
  • Allergic mucin sinusitis

Our preference is to manage the patient's condition(s) with medication when possible. However, medications are not always effective in treating severe chronic sinusitis caused by persistent infection, extensive nasal polyposis, poorly controlled asthma or certain other factors.

In these cases, we may refer patients to the world-class ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons at the nearby Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI). Following surgery, we may co-manage ongoing care with the patient's ENT specialist at MEEI.

Specialized Experience Makes a Difference

Our allergy specialists have extensive experience in caring for patients with severe chronic sinusitis. Pinpointing the cause of this condition (e.g. fungus, bacterial infection or noninfectious inflammation) can be difficult. Our team's experience is a critical factor in making the correct diagnosis and developing an effective treatment plan.

Allergists in our unit are known nationally and internationally for their clinical and research leadership in severe chronic sinusitis. In order to advance the understanding and treatment of this condition, they have lectured and led workshops at many major gatherings of allergists and immunologists.

Groundbreaking Clinical Trials

As an elite academic medical center, Mass General is committed to conducting groundbreaking research that leads to improved care for patients with chronic sinus disease. We have conducted many clinical studies of novel therapies—e.g. nasal antifungal rinses, intranasal antibiotics and topical steroids—that have proven effective in treating severe chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps.

Currently, we are recruiting patients with polypoid chronic sinusitis for a study of omalizumab, an anti-immunoglobulin (anti-IgE) therapy. For enrollment information, please call our clinical research coordinator at 617-726-6376.

Educating the Next Generation

We are dedicated to preparing the next generation of academic clinicians and basic scientists in allergy and immunology. Fellows in the Allergy and Immunology Training Program receive training in evaluating and managing severe chronic sinusitis. Internal medicine residents also gain exposure to patients with this condition as part of their general training.

Allergic Rhinitis (Allergies)

Rhinitis is a reaction that occurs in the nose when airborne irritants (allergens) trigger the release of histamine. Histamine causes inflammation and fluid production in the fragile linings of nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids.

Rhinitis

Rhinitis is a reaction that occurs in the eyes, nose and throat when airborne irritants (allergens) trigger the release of histamine.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses near the nose. These infections usually occur after a cold or after an allergic inflammation.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

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