Reliability of a standardized nasal anatomic worksheet and correlation with subjective nasal airway obstruction

Robin W. Lindsay, Ryan George, Matthew E. Herberg, Paula Jackson, Scott Brietzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE: Nasal obstruction is a common chief concern; however, a comprehensive standardized worksheet for evaluating nasal obstruction has not been developed. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the interrater reliability between staff surgeons and otolaryngology residents using a worksheet-based standardized nasal examination and to identify specific examination findings correlated with the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation quality-of-life score. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional study conducted from June to July 2012 involved 50 adults presenting to an otolaryngology clinic at a tertiary care hospital. The patients were examined by 2 board-certified facial plastic surgeons and 2 otolaryngology residents. EXPOSURES: The inferior turbinates, septum, and internal and external nasal valve narrowing and collapse were graded bilaterally from a scale of 0 to 3 with the aid of a standardized nasal anatomy worksheet. The findings were compared between the attending staff, residents, and the entire group. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The Cohen κ coefficient for interrater reliability was calculated for each of the graded metrics. The Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation scores were correlated with anatomic scores. RESULTS: Of the 49 patients included in the final analysis, the mean age was 43.6 years (range, 21-82 years), and 31 were male (66.3%). Among all attending and resident examiners, a moderate to fair, statistically significant interrater reliability coefficient (P < .001) was observed in the following nasal anatomic measurements: left and right Cottle (κ = 0.582 [95% CI, 0.463-0.700] and κ = 0.580 [95% CI, 0.461-0.698], respectively), modified Cottle (κ = 0.491 [95% CI, 0.373-0.609] and κ = 0.560 [95% CI, 0.442-0.679], respectively), dynamic internal nasal valve collapse (κ = 0.204 [95% CI, 0.118-0.290] and κ = 0.232 [95% CI, 0.140-0.323], respectively), and inferior turbinate hypertrophy (κ = 0.252 [95% CI, 0.152-0.352] and κ = 0.235 [95% CI, 0.153-0.317], respectively). The trend of examination interrater reliability was similar for attending staff and the otolaryngology residents. The Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation score correlated with the mean total anatomic worksheet score (Spearman ρ = 0.301; P = .048). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Interrater reliability is high in both residents and attending staff for dynamic nasal airway examinations evaluating the internal and external nasal valves and for turbinate hypertrophy assessment. The total nasal anatomic score using a standardized worksheet correlates to patient-reported nasal-specific quality of life. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: NA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-454
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Facial Plastic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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