Rhinometry and Rhinomanometry

Number: 0700


Aetna considers rhinomanometry, acoustic rhinometry, and optical rhinometry experimental and investigational because of a lack of clinical studies demonstrating that these tests improve clinical outcomes.


There are many potential causes for nasal obstruction.  Some of the most common causes are allergic rhinitis, deviation of the nasal septum, or sinus or nasal infection.  Nasal obstruction is typically diagnosed by a patient’s subjective complaint of nasal stuffiness coupled with a physical examination demonstrating anatomic restriction of the nasal passages. 

Rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry are objective tests that have been attempted to assess nasal airway patency.  Rhinomanometry measures air pressure and the rate of airflow during breathing.  These measurements are then used to calculate nasal airway resistance.  Acoustic rhinometry uses a reflected sound signal to measure the cross-sectional area and volume of the nasal passage.  Acoustic rhinometry gives an anatomic description of a nasal passage, whereas rhinomanometry gives a functional measure of the pressure/flow relationships during the respiratory cycle.  Both techniques have been used in comparing decongestive action of antihistamines and corticosteroids and for assessment of an individual prior to or following nasal surgery. 

Some investigators have found that subjective symptoms as rated by patients frequently do not correlate with rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry measurements (Passali et al, 2000).  In addition, significant symptoms can be present without airway restriction (e.g., in patients with atrophic mucosa or sinusitis).  In a clinical trial (n = 49) on the role of acoustic rhinometry in the diagnosis of adenoidal hypertrophy, Riechelmann et al (1999) reported that acoustic rhinometry, in general, is not suitable for assessing adenoidal size in pre-school children.  He found that acoustic rhinometry was not able to differentiate controls from symptomatic children admitted for adenoidectomy.

Pallanch et al (1998) stated that there are many objective test values where some patients will complain of obstruction but others will not.  It follows that there is not a single population threshold for the airway at which symptomatic obstruction would occur.  Instead, it appears that there is a range of individual threshold values.  Thus, it is not always possible to identify who will feel obstructed based on airway data. 

There is inadequate evidence of the clinical utility of rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry.  These tests have not been demonstrated to be superior to physical examination, nasal endoscopy or CT imaging in selecting patients who would benefit from medical and/or surgical management of their nasal obstruction.  Clinical studies published in the peer-reviewed medical literature are necessary to determine the value of rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry in the diagnosis and clinical management of patients with nasal obstruction.

Tarhan et al (2005) compared acoustic rhinometry (AR) data to CT data to evaluate the accuracy of AR measurements in estimating nasal passage area and evaluated its ability of quantifying paranasal sinus volume and ostium size in live humans.  Twenty nasal passages of 10 healthy adults were examined by using AR and CT.  Actual cross-sectional areas of the nasal cavity, sinus ostia sizes, and maxillary and frontal sinus volumes were determined from CT sections perpendicular to the curved acoustic axis of the nasal passage.  Nasal cavity volume (from nostril to choana) calculated from the AR-derived area-distance curve was compared with that from the CT-derived area-distance curve.  AR measurements were also done on pipe models that featured a side branch (Helmholtz resonator of constant volume but 2 different neck diameters) simulating a paranasal sinus.  In the anterior nasal cavity, there was good agreement between the cross-sectional areas determined by AR and CT.  However, posterior to the sinus ostia, AR over-estimated cross-sectional area.  The difference between AR nasal volume and CT nasal volume was much smaller than the combined volume of the maxillary and frontal sinuses.  The results suggested that AR measurements of the healthy adult nasal cavity are reasonably accurate to the level of the paranasal sinus ostia.  Beyond this point, AR over-estimates cross-sectional area and provides no quantitative data for sinus volume or ostium size.  The effects of paranasal sinuses and acoustic resonances in the nasal cavity are not accounted for in the present AR algorithms.

Cakmak et al (2005) evaluated how anatomic variations of the nasal cavity affect the accuracy of AR measurements.  A cast model of a human nasal cavity was used to examine the effects of the nasal valve and paranasal sinuses on AR measurements.  A luminal impression of a cadaver nasal cavity was made, and a cast model was created from this impression.  To simulate the nasal valve, inserts of varying inner diameter were placed in the model nasal passage.  To simulate the paranasal sinuses, side branches with varying neck diameters and cavity volumes were attached to the model.  The AR measurements of the anterior nasal passage were reasonably precise when the passage area of the insert was within the normal range.  When the passage area of the insert was reduced, AR measurements significantly under-estimated the cross-sectional areas beyond the insert.  The volume of the paranasal sinus had limited effect on AR measurements when the sinus ostium was small.  However, when the ostium size was large, increasing the volume of the sinus led to significant over-estimation of AR-derived areas beyond the ostium.  The authors concluded that the pathologies that narrow the anterior nasal passage result in the most significant AR error by causing area under-estimation beyond the constriction.  It also appears that increased paranasal sinus volume causes over-estimation of areas posterior to the sinus ostium when the ostium size is large.  If these physical effects are not considered, the results obtained during clinical examination with AR may be misinterpreted.

Liu et al (2006) examined the association between AR findings and results of over-night polysomongraphy.  Patients who were under the age of 20 years, had severe deviated nasal septum, had previously received nasal or palatal surgery, or could not complete sleep test or AR examination were excluded.  Subjects' basic data including age, gender, neck circumference, and body mass index (BMI) were collected.  All participants received AR before over-night polysomnography.  The results along with sleep-test outcomes were recorded and analyzed.  A total of 87 patients were included in this study.  Patients with respiratory disturbance index (RDI) less than 5/hour (n = 26) or with RDI of 5 - 30/hour (n = 28) tended to have larger minimal cross-sectional area (MCA) compared with those of patients whose RDI was more than 30/hour (n = 33) (p = 0.001).  A stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that BMI, male gender, and MCA were contributing factors in RDI.  The R2 value of the multiple regression analysis was 0.406.  The authors concluded that patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea tended to have smaller MCA when compared with patients with RDI less than 30/hour.  However, it was hard to predict whether patients had obstructive sleep apnea from AR examination.

Bermüller and colleagues (2008) examined the diagnostic accuracy of rhinomanometry (RMM) and peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) in functional rhinosurgery.  Measurements were carried out on 40 healthy individuals and 53 patients with symptomatic nasal stenosis.  Cut-offs for RMM and PNIF were defined by receiver operating characteristic analysis.  A cut-off between normal and pathological of 700 ml/second for RMM at a trans-nasal pressure difference of 150 Pa, and of 2,000 ml/second (120 L/minute) for PNIF was calculated.  No significant differences in terms of sensitivity of RMM and PNIF (0.77 versus 0.66), specificity (0.8 versus 0.8) and diagnostic accuracy (0.79 versus 0.72) were found.  The authors concluded that RMM and PNIF provide valuable information to support clinical decision making.  However, with bothe  methods, about 25 % of symptomatic patients with functionally relevant nasal structural deformity were not detected.  Furthermore, a negative test outcome of RMM or PNIF does not exclude a functionally relevant nasal stenosis.

Straszek and associates (2008) stated that despite a growing number of studies using AR in children, no reference material exists that incorporates the entire age and height interval of pre-school children up to puberty for a range of rhinometric variables.  These researchers attempted to provide a reference range for nasal volumes and MCAs in healthy non-decongested children aged 4 to 13 years old.  A total of 256 primary school children (mean age of 7.95 years; range of 3.8 to 13.1 years; 123 boys/133 girls) were measured by AR.  Variables were MCA (first, second, and absolute minimum) and nasal volumes from 0 to 4 cm (Vol0-4), 0 to 5 cm (Vol0-5), 1 to 4 cm (Vol1-4), and 2 to 5 cm (Vol2-5) into the nasal cavity.  Height and weight were measured and atopic status was determined by skin-prick test.  Age as well as current and past respiratory health were recorded from a questionnaire.  In multiple linear regression models, height was the main predictor for all AR variables although weight also was a significant predictor of MCAs.  There was no association between any AR variables with sex, atopy, or hay fever; but children with current wheeze (within last 12 months) and asthma had decreased nasal patency.  The authors concluded that this study presented the most extensive current reference material for AR in non-decongested pre-pubescent healthy children.  They stated that the presented reference material will aid the interpretation and evaluation of future and present epidemiological studies based on AR in children.

Piszcz et al (2008) reported on the use AR in assessing nasal obstruction due to adenoid hypertrophy in patients referred for adenoidectomy; they also evaluated on changes in the volume of the nasopharynx after adenoidectomy.  The examination was performed in patients (n = 30) aged 5 to 10 years with adenoid hypertrophy admitted for adenoidectomy.  Ten children who are free of otolaryngological problems served as the control group.  All subjects had AR performed and additionally, endoscopic method such as rhynofiberoscopy and endoscopy of nasopharyngs were introduced in the patient's group.  The study showed that children with adenoid hypertrophy have statistically significant reduction of nasopharyngeal volume (NPV) versus the control group.  Adenoidectomy increases the NPV parameter and makes it equal to control group.  The authors concluded that AR seems to be a promising method in the assessment of nasopharyngeal volume.  They noted that this and further studies may help to reduce the number of "unnecessary" adenoidectomies, by making standards for NPV in different group of age.

Okun and colleagues (2010) evaluated the use of AR in children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  Subjects with clinically suspected OSA underwent AR measurements followed by attended over-night polysomnography.  Of a total of 20 subjects (13 boys, 7 girls), 15 (75 %) had OSA, defined as apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) greater than or equal to 5 events per hour of sleep, and 5 had primary snoring (PS).  The mean AHI was 16.79 versus 1.96 events/hour.  Positional changes in airway measurement by AR were present in the OSA group, with an average decrease in nasal cavity volume from upright to supine position of 1.53 cm(3) (p = 0.027).  These changes were predictive of sleep apnea (r (2) = 0.65, p = 0.035).  The authors concluded that these findigns showed a marked difference between OSA and PS groups during AR measurements of the nasopharynx.  They stated that positional airway changes had been previously reported in adults with OSA and further evaluation of the airway function in pediatric OSA is warranted.

Andre and colleagues (2009) evaluated the correlation between the subjective sense of nasal patency and the outcomes found with rhinomanometry and AR.  Review of English-language articles in which correlations were sought between subjective nasal patency symptoms and objective scores as found with rhinomanometry [nasal airway resistance (NAR)] and AR [minimal cross-sectional area (MCA)].  Correlations were related to unilateral or combined assessment of nasal passages and to symptomatic nasal obstruction or unobstructed nasal breathing.  A total of 16 studies with a level of evidence II-a or II-b fit the inclusion criteria and were further analyzed.  Almost every possible combination of correlations or lack thereof in relation to the variables included was found.  However, when obstructive symptoms were present, a correlation between the patency symptoms with nasal airway resistance and minimal cross-sectional area was found more often than in the absence of symptoms.  In cases of bilateral assessment a correlation was found almost as often as it was not between patency symptoms and total nasal airway resistance or combined minimal cross-sectional areas, while in the limited amount of studies in which unilateral assessment was done a correlation was found each time between patency symptoms and nasal airway resistance.  The authors concluded that the correlation between the outcomes found with rhinomanometry and AR and an individual's subjective sensation of nasal patency remains uncertain.  Based on this review, it seems that the chance of a correlation is greater when each nasal passage is assessed individually and when obstructive symptoms are present.  There still seems to be only a limited argument for the use of rhinomanometry or AR in routine rhinologic practice or for quantifying surgical results.

Kupczyk et al (2010) evaluated AR as an objective method of assessment of nasal lysine aspirin (Lys-ASA) nasal challenge.  A total of 20 patients with aspirin induced asthma (ASA-S) and 10 controls (ASA-NS): 5 patients with allergic rhinitis and 5 healthy subjects) were included.  Nasal challenge was performed with placebo (saline) and 14.4 mg of Lys-ASA introduced as aerosol to both nostrils (total dose: 16 mg of acetylsalicylic acid).  Measurements of nasal volume bilaterally were performed with the use of AR before and 1, 2, 4 and 24 hours after the challenge.  For further analysis the sum of both nasal cavities volume at the level of 2 to 5 cm from nostrils was used.  Mean total bilateral volume in ASA-S group after placebo was: 7.74, 6.21, 7.11, 7.12, 7.24 cm(3) and 7.24, 5.77, 6.31, 6.27, 6.98 cm(3) after Lys-ASA (before and after 1, 2, 4 and 24 hours, respectively; p = 0,048 and p = 0,02, in 2nd and 4th hour, Lys-ASA versus placebo, Wilcoxon's test).  With cut-off point of nasal volume decrease by 10 % in the 1st hour the sensitivity of the test was 70 %, specificity 60 %, positive predictive value 77.78 % and negative predictive value 50 %.  The authors concluded that AR with measurement of nasal cavities volume changes at 2 to 5 cm from nostrils does not appear to be sufficiently sensitive and specific as a single method for evaluation of studied challenge method.

Optical rhinometry (ORM) is a new technique introduced in Germany in 2004 that quantifies light extinction in optical density to assess nasal blood volume as a measure of nasal patency.  It works via optical spectroscopy, which measures the absorption of visible and near-infrared light in tissue.  Similar to pulse oximetry that measures hemogblobin absorption of near-infrared light and thus oxygen blood saturation, ORM measures blood volume within the nasal cavity.  An emitter and detector are positioned across the nasal bridge, and swelling is measured as the extinction of light or optical density, as a function of time.

Hellgren and colleagues (2007) validated the Rhinolux (Rhios GmbH, Germany), an optical rhinometer, against AR in detecting nasal mucosal swelling when changing body position from sitting to supine.  The study population consisted of 20 healthy subjects (7 women, 13 men, mean age of 34.7 +/- 9.3 years).  The Rhinolux was applied sitting in the upright position followed by 5 mins in the supine position.  Acoustic rhinometry was measured sitting in the upright position and after 5 mins in the supine position.  In 7 subjects the measurements were repeated on 3 different days to assess the repeatability.  The mean change from baseline in minimal cross sectional area DeltaMCA measured with acoustic rhinometry was -0.12 (+/- 0.19) cm2 (right + left side), p = 0.013 but DeltaE (change in light extinction from baseline) measured with the Rhinolux was unchanged 0.02 (+/- 0.18) optical densities (OD), p = 0.56.  There was no correlation between DeltaE and DeltaMCA r = 0.028, p = 0.9.  The mean DeltaE result from repeated measurements on different days was 0.05 (+/- 0.08) OD, p = 0.09 and the DeltaMCA was -0.1 (+/- 0.11) cm2, p = 0.02.  This study showed that the changes in nasal blood volume measured with the Rhinolux did not reflect changes in nasal mucosal swelling measured with AR when changing body position from sitting to supine.  The results indicated that the utility of the Rhinolux in assessing nasal mucosal reactions has to be evaluated further.

In a prospective pilot study, Luong et al (2010) evaluated ORM as an objective evaluation of nasal patency using nasal provocation testing (NPT) with histamine and oxymetazoline.  A total of 5 adult subjects with allergic rhinitis and 5 adult normal subjects who underwent challenge with histamine and oxymetazoline were included in this study.  Patients underwent challenge with increasing concentrations of histamine to determine the amount of histamine needed to cause a positive ORM reading.  The same subjects then underwent histamine challenge with this amount followed by oxymetazoline.  Nasal patency was assessed subjectively after each challenge with the visual analog scale.  The median histamine amount needed to cause a positive response was statistically lower in allergic rhinitis as compared with non-allergic subjects at 150 microg and 300 microg, respectively (p = 0.04).  When comparing ORM with subjective nasal congestion after histamine and oxymetazoline challenges, there was a statistically significant correlation with r = 0.79 (p = 0.00003).  The authors concluded that the findings of this pilot study demonstrated a correlation between subjective symptoms of nasal patency and objective measurements with ORM.  Less histamine amount necessary to incite nasal congestion in allergic rhinitis suggests that these patients may be primed to the effects of histamine.  They stated that these preliminary findings serve to create the foundation for further exploration of the utility of ORM for NPT.

In a prospective pilot study, Cheung et al (2010) assessed ORM as an objective evaluation of nasal patency using NPT with Dermatophagoides farinae (Df) as compared with AR.  A total of 5 adult healthy controls and 5 adult subjects with allergic rhinitis underwent NPT with increasing concentrations of Df while undergoing ORM.  The minimum concentration of Df causing a positive reading was recorded.  Nasal cross-sectional area was measured before and after testing using AR.  Nasal patency was assessed subjectively after each challenge with the visual analog scale.  The median amount of Df causing a positive response on ORM was less in allergic rhinitis patients as compared to healthy controls, at 5000 AU/ml and greater than 10,000 AU/ml, respectively.  There was a statistically significant correlation between the change in optical density in ORM and subjective nasal congestion after increasing Df challenges (r = 0.63; p = 0.0007).  Similarly, there was a statistically significant correlation between change in optical density by ORM and both minimum cross-sectional areas as measured by AR (r = -0.60, p = 0.03; and r = -0.64, p = 0.02, respectively).  The authors concluded that this is the first study to show a correlation between ORM and AR during NPT with Df.  In addition, the data support a correlation of ORM to subjective symptoms of nasal congestion.  These findings suggest that ORM is able to assess changes in nasal patency during challenges with Df.  They stated that further studies on ORM are needed; current ongoing trials are evaluating ORM for NPT with other common antigens.

Tombu et al (2010) stated that AR and RMM study 2 different parameters of nasal ventilation: (i) respiratory function and (ii) the anatomy of nasal cavities.  These researchers examined the usefulness of AR and RMM, in particular in the surgical field.  They listed the normal values for these tests.  Nasal obstruction is a symptom of multi-factorial origin.  Nasal patency is only one factor influencing the sensation of nasal ventilation.  Despite the range of divergent opinions in both the literature and among rhinological clinicians, the objective assessment of nasal patency in functional rhinoplasty or septo-rhinoplasty seems to be advisable.  The authors stated that the roles of AR and RMM still have to be established.

de Aguiar Vidigal et al (2013) evaluated the nose of patients with OSA syndrome (OSAS), compared them to controls, and correlated the different methods used to evaluate the nose.  A total of 47 patients with moderate-to-severe OSAS and 20 controls who were matched for gender, age, and BMI were included.  Questionnaires regarding sleep and nasal symptoms, physical examination, AR, naso-fibroscopy, rhinoscopy, as well as nasal inspiratory peak flow (NIPF) measurements were performed.  In the OSAS group, 33 (70.2 %) were male, with a mean age of 53.2 +/- 9.1 years.  In the control group, 13 (65 %) were male, with a mean age of 53.7 +/- 9.7 years.  The OSAS group had a higher score on the nasal symptoms scale (p < 0.01) and a higher frequency of nasal alterations [presence of septal deviation, clinical complaints (p = 0.01) and hypertrophy of the inferior nasal turbinate (p < 0.01)].  The NIPF and AR parameters could not differentiate between the OSAS and control groups.  There were no significant correlations among the different methods used to evaluate the nose.  Lower NIPF values were capable of predicting higher apnea-hypopnea index scores (p = 0.007).  The authors concluded that clinical complaints and nasal alterations as measured by rhinoscopy and naso-fibroscopy were associated with the presence of OSAS, which was not the case for theAR and NIPF parameters.  The results of different evaluation methods were not correlated with each other.

Mendes et al (2012) correlated objective assessment of nasal obstruction, as measured by AR (volume of the first 5 cm of the nasal cavity) and active anterior RMM (total nasal airway resistance), with its subjective evaluation (obstruction scores).  A total of 30 patients, aged 7 to 18 years, with persistent allergic rhinitis and 30 controls were enrolled.  The obstruction score was reported for the whole nasal cavity and for each nostril separately.  The 3 variables were measured at baseline and after induction of nasal obstruction.  There were significant and negative correlations between resistance and nasal volume in all groups and scenarios, except for the most obstructed nostril, in the control group, post-obstruction.  For the whole nasal cavity, there was no significant correlation between objective and subjective variables except between score and total nasal cavity volume in the control group, post-obstruction.  Regarding the most obstructed nostril, these investigators found a significant negative correlation between score and resistance and a significant positive correlation between score and volume for the total group at baseline.  There were no clear differences in the correlation coefficients found in patients and controls.  The correlation coefficients did not change after induction of nasal obstruction.  The authors concluded that objective assessment of nasal obstruction did not correlate significantly with subjective evaluation for the nasal cavity as a whole, but there was a correlation for unilateral assessments.  There was correlation between the objective evaluations.  Allergic rhinitis and acute induction of nasal obstruction did not affect the correlation between objective and subjective assessments of nasal obstruction.  Moreover, they stated that addition of an objective method for evaluation of nasal obstruction could be useful in the research setting; if no such method can be used, each nostril should be evaluated separately.

Altuntas et al (2013) noted that Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), like other viral infections, may prolong muco-ciliary clearance time and increase nasal resistance in children.  The aim of the present prospective case-control study was to study, using saccharin and anterior RMM tests, whether CCHF infections caused any change in nasal physiology.  A total of 40 subjects (20 of whom had CCHF (group 1) and 20 of whom were healthy controls (group 2)), were enrolled in this study.  The definitive diagnosis of CCHF infection was made based on typical clinical and epidemiological findings and detection of CCHF virus-specific IgM by ELISA or of genomic segments of the CCHF virus by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.  Anterior RMM was performed in all participants according to current recommendations of the Committee Report on Standardization of Rhinomanometry.  A saccharin test was used to evaluate muco-ciliary clearance, and nasal muco-ciliary clearance time was assessed with the saccharin test as described previously.  In these patients, the mean time from the application of saccharin crystals to the first feeling of a sweet taste was 6.77 ± 3.25 minutes (range of 2 to 16 mins).  In terms of the mean time from the application of saccharin crystals to the first feeling of a sweet taste, there was no difference between 2 groups.  The mean total air flow was 637.60 ± 76.18 ml/s (range of 490 to 760 ml/s).  The mean total nasal airway resistance was 0.24 ± 0.03 Pa/ml/s (range of 0.20 to 0.31 Pa/ml/s).  In terms of the degree of nasal air flow and nasal airway resistance and the total air flow and total nasal airway resistance of each nostril, there was no difference between the 2 groups.  The authors concluded that the results obtained in anterior RMM and saccharin test showed that there was no statistically significant difference between CCHF (+) patients and controls.  These findings suggested that CCHF virus infection does not affect nasal physiology.  However, this is the first study performed on this issue and further studies on larger series need to be performed.

Haavisto and Sipila (2013) compared AR, RMM, and subjective estimation of the nasal obstruction before and after septoplasty and evaluated the long-term results of septal surgery.  The study included 30 adult patients who were operated on because of septal deviation.  Pre-operatively, AR and active anterior RMM were performed on each subject after decongestion of the nose.  A visual analog scale (VAS) for unilateral nasal obstruction was filled in by the patients.  The measurements were repeated both 6 months and 10 years post-operatively.  A significant change in acoustic values was found during the long-term follow-up of 10 years.  The mean minimal cross-sectional area on the more obstructive side was 0.35 cm(2) pre-operatively.  Six months after operation, it was 0.52 cm(2), and 10 years after operation, it was 0.68 cm(2).  The mean resistance fell from pre-operative 1.16 Pa/ml/s to 0.41 Pa/ml/s during the first 6 months, but rose again to 1.21 Pa/ml/s after 10 years.  Despite a tendency of improvement, no statistically significant change was found between pre-operative and post-operative values in VAS.  Six months after operation, 69 % of the patients were satisfied with the result, and after 10 years the amount of satisfied patients was 83 %.  The authors found an increase in acoustic values, but an increase in nasal resistance in the long-term follow-up.  Other factors than nasal area may have an impact on nasal resistance and the feeling of nasal obstruction.  The small size on the sample interfered with the results.

Lambert et al (2013) noted that patients with non-allergic irritant rhinitis (NAIR) have symptoms of nasal congestion, nasal irritation, rhinorrhea, and sneezing in response to nasal irritants.  There is currently no reliable objective means to quantify these patients' subjective symptoms.  In this study, these researchers used the transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) receptor agonist, capsaicin, as an intra-nasal challenge while comparing the changes in blood flow with optical rhinometry between subjects with NAIR and healthy controls (HCs).  A total of 6 HCs and 6 NAIR subjects were challenged intra-nasally with saline solution followed by increasing concentrations of capsaicin (0.005 mM, 0.05 mM, and 0.5 mM) at 15-min intervals.  These investigators recorded maximum optical density (OD) and numeric analog scores (NAS) for nasal congestion, nasal irritation, rhinorrhea, and sneezing for each subject after each challenge.  Correlations between NAS and maximum OD were calculated.  Maximum OD increased with increasing concentrations of intra-nasal capsaicin in NAIR subjects.  There were significant differences in maximum OD obtained for 0.05 mM and 0.5 mM capsaicin between NAIR subjects and HCs.  Significant differences were found in the NAS for nasal irritation at 0.005 mM, 0.05 mM, and 0.5 mM, and nasal congestion at 0.5 mM.  Correlation between maximum OD and mean NAS was most significant for 0.05 mM capsaicin.  The authors concluded that optical rhinometry with intra-nasal capsaicin challenge could prove a viable option in the diagnosis of NAIR.  Moreover, they stated that further studies will investigate its use to monitor a patient's response to pharmacologic therapy and provide further information about the underlying mechanisms of NAIR.  The findings of this small study need to be validated by well-designed studies.

Also, an UpToDate review on “Clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of nasal obstruction” (Bhattacharyya, 2013) states that “Several other tests can be performed to help characterize nasal obstruction.  The data supporting the use of these measurements are somewhat controversial and results can be less than definitive …. The degree of nasal obstruction, as measured objectively by acoustic rhinometry, peak nasal airflow, or rhinomanometry, may not correlate well with the patient's subjective sense of nasal obstruction.  As an example, minimal changes in nasal patency (measured objectively) may still manifest as a significant symptomatic problem in the individual patient”.

In a prospective study, Toros et al (2013) evaluated the differences in acoustic rhinometric findings between the affected and non-affected sides in patients with unilateral chronic otitis media (COM) and examined if unilateral COM correlates with the side of nasal obstruction.  A total of 55 consecutive patients with unilateral COM were involved in this study.  All patients were evaluated with AR, the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation (NOSE) scale, and measurement of their nasal muco-ciliary transport time.  The mean cross-sectional area 1, mean cross-sectional area 2, volume 1, and volume 2 values were not different between the affected and non-affected sides (p > 0.05).  The NOSE score had a reverse correlation with the mean cross-sectional area 2 (p < 0.05) and volume 2 (p < 0.01) of the affected side.  Saccharin time was not correlated with the acoustic rhinometric values of the affected side (p > 0.05).  The authors concluded that these findings did not support the hypothesis that unilateral COM is correlated with the side of nasal obstruction.

In a prospective study, Dadgarnia and colleagues (2013) used the objective parameters of AR and rhinomanometry to evaluate the effectiveness of septoplasty surgery.  A total of 30 patients for septoplasty surgery were enrolled in this study; AR and rhinomanometry tests were performed on all patients both before and 3 months following the operation.  he symptom recovery rate was recorded according to the patient's statements and anterior rhinoscopic examinations 3 months post-surgery.  Data were analyzed using a t-test and chi-square tests in a SPSS package.  A total of 26 of 30 patients returned for a post-surgery follow-up examination after 3 months.  Patients were aged from 18 to 32 years (average of 25 years).  In total, 69.2 % (18 patients) were satisfied with the results of the procedure.  In addition, rhinomanometry resulted in a decrease in general nasal resistance if patients used decongestants (p = 0.03).  However, the decrease was not significant before the use of decongestants (p = 0.12).  Furthermore, according to the results from AR, there was an increase in the nasal cross-sectional area on both the narrow and wide sides after the operation (p < 0.05), although this increase was not so notable in the narrower side after using decongestants.  There was, however, no significant relationship between the results from the objective tests and the patient's symptoms or clinical examinations (p > 0.05).  The authors concluded that these findings showed that although the objective tests confirm an improvement in general nasal resistance and an increase in the nasal cross-sectional area after surgery, no unambiguous relationship between the patient's symptoms and the clinical examinations was observed.  Therefore, such objective tests did not prove to be sufficient diagnostic criteria for the effectiveness of septoplasty.

Patuzzi and Cook (2014) described a simple and inexpensive method for monitoring nasal air flow resistance using measurement of the small-signal acoustic input impedance of the nasal passage, similar to the audiological measurement of ear drum compliance with acoustic tympanometry.  The method requires generation of a fixed sinusoidal volume-velocity stimulus using ear-bud speakers, and an electret microphone to monitor the resultant pressure fluctuation in the nasal passage.  Both are coupled to the nose via high impedance silastic tubing and a small plastic nose insert.  The acoustic impedance is monitored in real-time using a laptop soundcard and custom-written software developed in LabView 7.0 (National Instruments).  The compact, lightweight equipment and fast time resolution lends the technique to research into the small and rapid reflexive changes in nasal resistance caused by environmental and local neurological influences. The authors concluded that the acoustic impedance rhinometry technique has the potential to be developed for use in a clinical setting, where the need exists for a simple and inexpensive objective nasal resistance measurement technique.

Lange et al (2014) stated that chronic rhino-sinusitis (CRS) is a disease related to the nose and the para-nasal sinus as defined by the European Position Paper on Rhinosinusitis and Nasal Polyps (EPOS) criteria.  The criteria include subjective symptoms, such as nasal obstruction, and objective findings by endoscopy.  Acoustic rhinometry is an objective method to determine nasal cavity geometry.  The technique is based on a sound pulse reflection analysis in the nasal cavity and determines cross-sectional areas as a function of distance as well as volume.  Acoustic rhinometric measurements in persons recruited from the general population, with and without CRS based on the clinical EPOS criteria, were investigated.  As part of a trans-European study, a total of 362 persons, comprising 91 persons with CRS and 271 persons without CRS, were examined by an otolaryngologist including rhinoscopy.  Minimum cross-sectional area, distance to minimum cross-sectional area, and volume in the nasal cavity were measured by AR and all participants underwent PNIF and allergy test.  A difference in AR was found before and after decongestion, but no difference was seen between CRS patients and controls.  Positive correlation between AR and PNIF was found and AR was capable of identifying mucosal edema and septum deviation visualized by rhinoscopy.  The authors concluded that AR, as a single instrument, was not capable of discriminating persons with CRS from persons without CRS in the general population.

Brockmann et al (2013) examined the diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) of different tests for OSA compared to polysomnography (PSG) in children.  These investigators performed a systematic review according to DTA criteria published by the Cochrane Collaboration.  Studies that compared any possible diagnostic test with PSG for diagnosing OSA were considered.  Study quality assessment was conducted in each selected study and DTA measures recalculated by hand whenever possible.  Excellent DTA was defined as positive likelihood ratio (PLR) greater than 10 and negative likelihood ratio (NLR) less than 0.1.  These researchers identified 1,064 potentially relevant studies, of which 33 met inclusion criteria.  Study quality was generally low; 5 studies fulfilled all quality criteria and 11 studies included more than 100 subjects.  Included studies compared 40 different tests to PSG.  Only 13 studies used the currently accepted definition for OSA (i.e., AHI greater than or equal to1).  In these studies, PLR ranged from 1.017 to infinity, NLR from 0 to 1.089.  Sleep lab-based polygraphy, urinary biomarkers, and rhinomanometry (1 study each) showed excellent DTA.  The authors concluded that there is limited evidence concerning diagnostic alternatives to PSG for identifying OSA in children.  However, polygraphy, urinary biomarkers, and rhinomanometry may be valid tests if their apparently high DTA is confirmed by subsequent studies.

Aziz et al (2014) performed a systematic review of measurement tools utilized for the diagnosis of nasal septal deviation (NSD).  Electronic database searches were performed using MEDLINE (from 1966 to 2nd week of August 2013), EMBASE (from 1966 to 2nd week of August 2013), Web of Science (from 1945 to 2nd week of August 2013) and all Evidence Based Medicine Reviews Files (EBMR); Cochrane Database of Systematic Review (CDSR), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CCTR), Cochrane Methodology Register (CMR), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), American College of Physicians Journal Club (ACP Journal Club), Health Technology Assessments (HTA), NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHSEED) till the 2nd quarter of 2013.  The search terms used in database searches were 'nasal septum', 'deviation', 'diagnosis', 'nose deformities' and 'nose malformation'.  The studies were reviewed using the updated Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS-2) tool.  Online searches resulted in 23 abstracts after removal of duplicates that resulted from overlap of studies between the electronic databases.  An additional 15 abstracts were excluded due to lack of relevance.  A total of 8 studies were systematically reviewed.  The authors concluded that diagnostic modalities such as acoustic rhinometry, rhinomanometry and nasal spectral sound analysis may be useful in identifying NSD in anterior region of the nasal cavity, but these tests in isolation are of limited utility.  They stated that compared to anterior rhinoscopy, nasal endoscopy, and imaging the above mentioned index tests lack sensitivity and specificity in identifying the presence, location, and severity of NSD.

Yuksel (2014) investigated the effects of anterior rhinomanometry-induced nasal resistance on OSAS patients.  Between May 2011 and September 2011, a total of 100 patients (76 males, 24 females; mean age of 47.6 ± 11.6 years; range of 20 to 71 years) who were admitted with complaints of snore, breathing pauses told by their partners, oversleep mood in a daytime and fatigue and diagnosed with OSAS by PSG with simple snore were included.  Anterior rhinomanometry was applied for all patients and nasal resistance was estimated.  Mallampati index and BMI of patients was calculated.  The mean AHI and minimum oxygen saturation values were measured.  There was no significant relationship between nasal resistance and AHI.  However, a significant relationship between AHI and Mallampati and BMI values was observed.  The AHI values increased, as the Mallampati and BMI values increased.  The authors concluded that these findings showed that nasal resistance has no significant effect on AHI and minimum oxygen saturation in OSAS patients.

Major et al (2014) conducted a systematic review to examine the accuracy of alternative tests compared with nasoendoscopy (reference standard) for screening adenoid hypertrophy.  The review included searches of electronic databases, hand-searches of bibliographies of relevant articles and gray literature searches.  They included all articles in which an alternative test was compared with nasoendoscopy in children with suspected nasal or nasopharyngeal airway obstruction.  These researchers identified 7 articles that were of poor to good quality.  They identified the following alternative tests: multi-row detector computed tomography (sensitivity, 92 %; specificity, 97 %), videofluoroscopy (sensitivity, 100 %; specificity, 90 %), rhinomanometry with decongestant (sensitivity, 83 %; specificity, 83 %) and clinical examination (sensitivity, 22 %; specificity, 88 %).  Lateral cephalograms tended to have good to fair sensitivity (typically 61 to 75 % and poor specificity (41 to 55 %) when adenoid size was evaluated but excellent to good specificity when airway patency was evaluated (68 to 96 %).  The authors concluded that no ideal tool exists for dentists to screen adenoid hypertrophy, owing to access constraints, radiation concerns and suboptimal diagnostic accuracy.  They stated that research is needed to identify a low-risk, easily acceptable, highly valid diagnostic screening tool.

Melo et al (2015) noted that when there is a change in the physiological pattern of nasal breathing, mouth breathing may already be present.  The diagnosis of mouth breathing is related to nasal patency.  One way to access nasal patency is by AR.  These investigators systematically reviewed the effectiveness of AR for the diagnosis of patients with mouth breathing.  Electronic databases LILACS, MEDLINE via PubMed and Bireme, SciELO, Web of Science, Scopus, PsycInfo, CINAHL, and Science Direct, from August to December 2013, were consulted.  A total of 11,439 articles were found: 30 from LILACS, 54 from MEDLINE via Bireme, 5,558 from MEDLINE via PubMed, 11 from SciELO, 2,056 from Web of Science, 1,734 from Scopus, 13 from PsycInfo, 1,108 from CINAHL, and 875 from Science Direct.  Of these, 2 articles were selected.  The heterogeneity in the use of equipment and materials for the assessment of respiratory mode in these studies revealed that there is not yet consensus in the assessment and diagnosis of patients with mouth breathing.  The authors concluded that according to the articles, AR has been used for almost 20 years, but controlled studies attesting to the effectiveness of measuring the geometry of nasal cavities for complementary diagnosis of respiratory mode are warranted.

CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-10 Codes
Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes.   Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":
ICD-10 codes will become effective as of October 1, 2015:
CPT codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
92512 Nasal function studies (e.g., rhinomanometry)
Other CPT codes related to the CPB:
31231 - 31235 Nasal and nasal/sinus, diagnostic, endoscopy
70450 - 70470 Computed tomography, head or brain
ICD-10 codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
J01.00 - J01.91 Acute sinusitis
J30.1 - J30.9 Vasomotor and allergic rhinitis
J32.0 - J32.9 Chronic sinusitis
J34.2 Deviated nasal septum
J34.3 Hypertrophy of nasal turbinates

The above policy is based on the following references:
    1. Pallanch JF, McCaffrey TV, Kern EB, et al. Evaluation of nasal breathing function with objective airway testing. In: Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. CW Cummings, JM Fredrickson, LA Harker, et al, eds. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1998:803-809.
    2. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI). Rhinitis. Bloomington, MN: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI); May 2003. Available at: Accessed January 18, 2005.
    3. Temmel AF, Toth J, Marks B, et al. Rhinoresistometry versus rhinomanometry--an evaluation. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1998;110(17):612-615.
    4. Passali D, Mezzedimi C, Passali CG, Bellussi L. Monitoring methods of nasal pathology. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 1999;49 Suppl 1:S199-202.
    5. Szucs E, Clement PA. Acoustic rhinometry and rhinomanometry in the evaluation of nasal patency of patients with nasal septal deviation. Am J Rhinol. 1998;12(5):345-352.
    6. Passali D, Mezzedimi C, Passali GC, et al. The role of rhinomanometry, acoustic rhinometry, and mucociliary transport time in the assessment of nasal patency. Ear Nose Throat J. 2000;79(5):397-400.
    7. Marques VC, Anselmo-Lima WT. Pre- and postoperative evaluation by acoustic rhinometry of children submitted to adenoidectomy or adenotonsillectomy. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2004;68(3):311-316.
    8. Riechelmann H, O'Connell JM, Rheinheimer MC, et al. The role of acoustic rhinometry in the diagnosis of adenoidal hypertrophy in pre-school children. Eur J Pediatr. 1999;158(1):38-41.
    9. Wilson AM, Sims EJ, Robb F, et al. Peak inspiratory flow rate is more sensitive than acoustic rhinometry or rhinomanometry in detecting corticosteroid response with nasal histamine challenge. Rhinology. 2003;41(1):16-20.
    10. Wilson AM, Sims EJ, Orr LC, et al. Effects of topical corticosteroid and combined mediator blockade on domiciliary and laboratory measurements of nasal function in seasonal allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001;87(4):344-349.
    11. Roithmann R, Cole P, Chapnik J, et al. Acoustic rhinometry, rhinomanometry, and the sensation of nasal patency: A correlative study. J Otolaryngol. 1994;23(6):454-458.
    12. Austin CE, Foreman JC. Acoustic rhinometry compared with posterior rhinomanometry in the measurement of histamine- and bradykinin-induced changes in nasal airway patency. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1994;37(1):33-37.
    13. Schumacher MJ. Nasal congestion and airway obstruction: The validity of available objective and subjective measures. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2002;2(3):245-251.
    14. Hirschberg A. Rhinomanometry: An update. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2002;64(4):263-267.
    15. Naito K, Iwata S. Current advances in rhinomanometry. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1997;254(7):309-312.
    16. Clement PA, Gordts F; Standardisation Committee on Objective Assessment of the Nasal Airway, IRS, and ERS. Consensus report on acoustic rhinometry and rhinomanometry. Rhinology. 2005;43(3):169-179.
    17. Tarhan E, Coskun M, Cakmak O, et al. Acoustic rhinometry in humans: Accuracy of nasal passage area estimates, and ability to quantify paranasal sinus volume and ostium size. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99(2):616-623.
    18. Cakmak O, Celik H, Cankurtaran M, Ozluoglu LN. Effects of anatomical variations of the nasal cavity on acoustic rhinometry measurements: A model study. Am J Rhinol. 2005;19(3):262-268.
    19. Morris LG, Setlur J, Burschtin OE, et al. Acoustic rhinometry predicts tolerance of nasal continuous positive airway pressure: A pilot study. Am J Rhinol. 2006;20(2):133-137. 
    20. Keck T, Wiesmiller K, Lindemann J, Rozsasi A. Acoustic rhinometry in nasal provocation test in perennial allergic rhinitis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2006;263(10):910-916.
    21. Liu SA, Su MC, Jiang RS. Nasal patency measured by acoustic rhinometry in East Asian patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Am J Rhinol. 2006;20(3):274-277.
    22. Cankurtaran M, Celik H, Coskun M, et al. Acoustic rhinometry in healthy humans: Accuracy of area estimates and ability to quantify certain anatomic structures in the nasal cavity. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2007;116(12):906-916.
    23. Bermüller C, Kirsche H, Rettinger G, Riechelmann H. Diagnostic accuracy of peak nasal inspiratory flow and rhinomanometry in functional rhinosurgery. Laryngoscope. 2008;118(4):605-610.
    24. Straszek SP, Moeller A, Hall GL, et al. Reference values for acoustic rhinometry in children from 4 to 13 years old. Am J Rhinol. 2008;22(3):285-291.
    25. Piszcz M, Skotnicka B, Hassmann-Poznańska E. Acoustic rhinometry evaluation of adenoid hypertrophy and adenoidectomy efficacy. Otolaryngol Pol. 2008;62(3):300-304.
    26. Okun MN, Hadjiangelis N, Green D, et al. Acoustic rhinometry in pediatric sleep apnea. Sleep Breath. 2010;14(1):43-49.
    27. Hellgren J, Katelaris C, Rimmer J. A validation study of nasal spectroscopy: Rhinolux. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2007;264(9):1009-1012.
    28. Eduardo Nigro C, Faria Aguar Nigro J, Mion O, et al. A systematic review to assess the anatomical correlates of the notches in acoustic rhinometry. Clin Otolaryngol. 2009;34(5):431-437.
    29. Andre RF, Vuyk HD, Ahmed A, et al. Correlation between subjective and objective evaluation of the nasal airway. A systematic review of the highest level of evidence. Clin Otolaryngol. 2009;34(6):518-525.
    30. Kupczyk M, Kupryś-Lipińska I, Bocheńska-Marciniak M, Kuna P. Acoustic rhinometry in the evaluation of intranasal aspirin challenge. Pneumonol Alergol Pol. 2010;78(2):103-111.
    31. Luong A, Cheung EJ, Citardi MJ, Batra PS. Evaluation of optical rhinometry for nasal provocation testing in allergic and nonallergic subjects. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;143(2):284-289.
    32. Cheung EJ, Citardi MJ, Fakhri S, et al. Comparison of optical rhinometry to acoustic rhinometry using nasal provocation testing with Dermatophagoides farinae. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;143(2):290-293.
    33. Tombu S, Daele J, Lefebvre P. Rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry in rhinoplasty. B-ENT. 2010;6 Suppl 15:3-11.
    34. Toh ST, Lin CH, Guilleminault C. Usage of four-phase high-resolution rhinomanometry and measurement of nasal resistance in sleep-disordered breathing. Laryngoscope. 2012;122(10):2343-2349.
    35. Edizer DT, Erisir F, Alimoglu Y, Gokce S. Nasal obstruction following septorhinoplasty: How well does acoustic rhinometry work? Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2013;270(2):609-613.
    36. de Aguiar Vidigal T, Martinho Haddad FL, Gregório LC, et al. Subjective, anatomical, and functional nasal evaluation of patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Sleep Breath. 2013;17(1):427-433.
    37. Zhao W, Sun JW, Wang YL, Guo T. Significance of acoustic rhinometry and rhinomanometry in the evaluation of submucous correction of nasal septum and submucous resection of inferior turbinate. Zhonghua Er Bi Yan Hou Tou Jing Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2012;47(2):132-136.
    38. Mendes AI, Wandalsen GF, Sole D. Objective and subjective assessments of nasal obstruction in children and adolescents with allergic rhinitis. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2012;88(5):389-395.
    39. Altuntas EE, Kaya A, Uysal IO, et al. Anterior rhinomanometry and determination of nasal mucociliary clearance time with the saccharin test in children with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. J Craniofac Surg. 2013;24(3):e239-e242.
    40. Haavisto LE, Sipila JI. Acoustic rhinometry, rhinomanometry and visual analogue scale before and after septal surgery: A prospective 10-year follow-up. Clin Otolaryngol. 2013;38(1):23-29.
    41. Bhattacharyya N. Clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of nasal obstruction. UpToDate Inc., Waltham, MA. Last reviewed June 2013. (June 2015)
    42. Lambert EM, Patel CB, Fakhri S, et al. Optical rhinometry in nonallergic irritant rhinitis: A capsaicin challenge study. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2013;3(10):795-800.
    43. Toros SZ, Karaca CT, Onder S, et al. Nasal obstruction and unilateral chronic otitis media: Evaluation by acoustic rhinometry. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2013;122(12):734-736.
    44. Dadgarnia MH, Baradaranfar MH, Mazidi M, Azimi Meibodi SM. Assessment of septoplasty effectiveness using acoustic rhinometry and rhinomanometry. Iran J Otorhinolaryngol. 2013;25(71):71-78.
    45. Brockmann PE, Schaefer C, Poets A, et al. Diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in children: A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2013;17(5):331-340.
    46. Patuzzi R, Cook A. Acoustic impedance rhinometry (AIR): A technique for monitoring dynamic changes in nasal congestion. Physiol Meas. 2014;35(4):501-515.
    47. Lange B, Thilsing T, Baelum J, et al. Acoustic rhinometry in persons recruited from the general population and diagnosed with chronic rhinosinusitis according to EPOS. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2014;271(7):1961-1966.
    48. Aziz T, Biron VL, Ansari K, Flores-Mir C. Measurement tools for the diagnosis of nasal septal deviation: A systematic review. J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;43:11.
    49. Yuksel A. Comparison of rhinomanometry results with polysomnography and physical examination findings in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Kulak Burun Bogaz Ihtis Derg. 2014;24(4):190-194.
    50. Major MP, Saltaji H, El-Hakim H, et al. The accuracy of diagnostic tests for adenoid hypertrophy: A systematic review. J Am Dent Assoc. 2014;145(3):247-254.
    51. Melo AC, Gomes Ade O, Cavalcanti AS, Silva HJ. Acoustic rhinometry in mouth breathing patients: A systematic review. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2015;81(2):212-218.

You are now leaving the Aetna website.

Links to various non-Aetna sites are provided for your convenience only. Aetna Inc. and its subsidiary companies are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy, or privacy practices of linked sites, or for products or services described on these sites.

Continue >