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Biofilms in chronic rhinosinusitis: what is new and where next?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2015

Y Ramakrishnan*
Department of Otolaryngology, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
R C Shields
School of Dental Sciences, Newcastle University, UK
M R Elbadawey
Department of Otolaryngology, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Department of Otolaryngology, Tanta University, Egypt
J A Wilson
Department of Otolaryngology, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Address for correspondence: Dr Yujay Ramakrishnan, Department of Otolaryngology, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN, UK E-mail:



Chronic rhinosinusitis is a common, heterogeneous condition. An effective means of mitigating disease in chronic rhinosinusitis patients remains elusive. A variety of causes have been implicated, with the biofilm theory gaining increasing prominence.


This article reviews the literature on the role of biofilms in chronic rhinosinusitis, in terms of pathophysiology and with regard to avenues for future treatment.


A systematic review of case series was performed using databases with independently developed search strategies, including Medline, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane library, and Zetoc, in addition to conference proceedings and a manual search of literature, with the last search conducted on 18 January 2014. The search terms included the following, used in various combinations to maximise the yield of articles identified: ‘biofilms’, ‘chronic rhinosinusitis’, ‘DNase’, ‘extracellular DNA’ and ‘biofilm dispersal’.


The existing evidence lends further support for the role of biofilms (particularly the Staphylococcus aureus phenotype) in more severe, recalcitrant disease and poorer surgical outcomes.


Multimodality treatment, with a shift in paradigm to incorporate anti-biofilm strategies, is likely to form the mainstay of future recalcitrant chronic rhinosinusitis management.

Review Articles
Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2015 

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