Primary Care Doctors Need More, Better Info about Sinusitis

August 17, 2010

Primary care doctors often don't have the latest information on sinusitis diagnosis and management.

Symptoms associated with sinusitis are among eth most frequently cited reasons why people visit their primary care physician, but a new study from a Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) physician says that sinusitis can be difficult for primary care doctors to treat effectively, in part because of the lack of readily available information about the condition.

A news release from GUMC reports that a study by Alexander C. Chester, MD, a clinical professor at GUMC, found that although “awareness of new developments and findings is crucial for physicians who care for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS),” new study results can be “scant and occasionally inaccurate” and difficult for primary care physicians to find. The study results are published online in the August issue of the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.

According to Chester, the problem isn’t that there have been no new or significant findings about the diagnosis and treatment of sinusitis, the problem is that the necessary information is often published in specialty journals and other outlets that are not frequently read by primary care physicians.

Because of this, said Chester, “Internists who rely on traditional sources of information provided to their specialty may conclude that CRS is not an illness that is often associated with significant morbidity.” For example, he said that, in the absence of the latest information, primary care physicians may conclude that endoscopic sinus surgery is not an effective treatment for sinusitis or they may not be aware that chronic sinusitis can cause serious chronic fatigue

The solution? Chester said that "More studies, review articles, and evidence-based analyses need to be submitted for publication in general medical journals." It would be beneficial if papers on chronic sinusitis were more frequently presented at general internal medicine meetings. It would also help, said Chester, if the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, and other primary care professional medical societies were to establish relationships with the American Rhinologic Society and other otorhinolaryngologic societies “to facilitate the education of internists with regard to CRS.”

Additional Reading:

Chronic Sinusitis: What Doctors Don’t Know

Clinical Practice Guideline: Adult Sinusitis

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: The Diagnosis and Management of Sinusitis — A Practice Parameter Update

Diagnosis and Management of Acute Sinusitis by Pediatricians

American Academy of Family Physicians Practice Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Rhinosinusitis in Adults

Which Patients with Rhinosinusits Could Benefit from Antibiotics?

10 Pearls for Safe Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Evaluating the Diagnosis of Chronic Rhinosinusitis Based on Clinical Guidelines and Endoscopy