The role of silent aspiration of nasal secretions in the pathogenesis of asthma has often been questioned.
To investigate the presence of pulmonary aspiration of nasal secretions during sleep in patients with chronic sinusitis and asthma and in healthy controls.
Prospective, controlled trial.
The study included 13 patients with chronic sinusitis and asthma and 12 healthy controls. The diagnoses were based on history, physical examination findings, radiologic assessments, and pulmonary function test results.
A radioactive tracer was prepared by diluting 10 mCi of technetium 99m–labeled macroaggregated albumin in 10 mL of physiologic saline. At 10 PM, just before the patients went to sleep, the solution was sprayed into their nostrils. The subjects were examined with a gamma camera to obtain views of the thorax at 8 AM the following morning. The average counts of the lungs and background and the actual lung counts (average lung count minus average background count) were determined.
The average counts of the lungs were significantly greater than the average counts of the background in both the sinusitis-asthma group (P = .001) and the control group (P = .002). The difference in the actual counts of the lungs was not significant between the 2 groups (P = .79).
The nasal secretions were aspirated into the lungs both in patients with sinusitis and asthma and in healthy adults during sleep, and the relative amounts that were aspirated did not differ significantly between the 2 groups (P = .79). The amount of the aspirated material alone is probably not responsible for the pathogenesis of asthma in patients with chronic sinusitis.