The usefulness of routine histopathology of bilateral nasal polyps – a systematic review, meta-analysis, and cost evaluation Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Controversy regarding the usefulness of routine histopathological examination of bilateral nasal polyps removed during endoscopic sinus surgery to identify occult diagnoses still exists. There is a paucity of high-level evidence in the literature. METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. Two independent reviewers were used. Pooled proportions and numbers needed to screen were calculated. A cost per life year model was generated based on varying survival benefits and compared to other Canadian screening programs to provide financial context. RESULTS: Six studies (n = 3772 patients) were included. Of the 3772 patients, 3751 had a pre-operative clinical and post-operative pathological diagnosis of inflammatory nasal polyps. Agreement proportion was 99.44 %. There were 18 unexpected benign and three unexpected malignant diagnoses identified. This translated to a proportion of 0.48 and 0.08 % respectively. Number needed to screen was 210 and 1258 respectively. Pooled proportion for expected findings using a random effect model was 0.99 (95 % CI = 0.99-1). Pooled proportion for unexpected benign findings using a random effect model was 0.00522 (95 % CI = 0.00133-0.01). Pooled proportion for unexpected malignant findings using a random effect model was 0.00107 (95 % CI = 0.000147-0.00283). The cost to pick up one unexpected benign diagnosis was $14557.2. The cost to pick up 1 unexpected malignant diagnosis was $87204.56. Cost per quality life year calculated ranged from 3211.83 to $64677.58 based on varying assumptions on the survival benefits of identifying an unexpected malignancy. CONCLUSIONS: Routine pathological examination in screening for neoplasia may be low yield, however, no compelling evidence was found to cease such practice. Surgeons should exercise individual judgment in requesting routine examination.


  • Wong, Jay SM
  • Hoffbauer, Stephanie
  • Yeh, David H
  • Rotenberg, Brian
  • Gupta, Michael
  • Sommer, Doron

publication date

  • December 2015