Primary headache syndrome (PHS) patients frequently present to otolaryngologists with sinonasal complaints and diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) due to symptomatic overlap. In this study, we compare demographic, subjective, and objective clinical findings of patients with PHS versus CRS.
We retrospectively reviewed a database of patients presenting to a single tertiary care Rhinology clinic from December 2011-July 2017. Sino-Nasal Outcome Test-22 (SNOT) scores and Lund-Kennedy endoscopy scores were obtained. Lund-MacKay CT scores were calculated, if available. Requirement of headache specialist management was compared between PHS and CRS groups. Patients with both CRS and PHS (CRScPHS) that required headache specialist management were compared to patients with CRS without PHS (CRSsPHS) and patients with PHS alone using Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were carried out to determine significant diagnostic thresholds.
One-hundred four PHS patients and 130 CRS patients were included. PHS patients (72.1%) were more likely than CRS patients to require headache specialist management (6.9%, 0.99). CRScPHS ( = 0.0003) and PHS (<0.0001) subgroups of patients had significantly higher Aural/Facial domain scores compared to CRSsPHS patients. PHS patients also had significantly higher Sleep domains scores compared to CRSsPHS patients (<0.0001). Both CRScPHS and CRSsPHS subgroups had significantly higher nasal endoscopy scores (<0.0001) and CT scores ( = 0.04 & <0.0001, respectively) compared to the PHS group. Aural/Facial domain score of 4, nasal endoscopy score of 4, and CT score of 2 were found to be reliable diagnostic thresholds for absence of CRS.
The SNOT-22 may be used to distinguish PHS from CRS based upon the Aural/Facial and Sleep domains. Patients with CRS have more severe Nasal domain scores and worse objective endoscopy and CT findings.