Background: The medical management of acute and chronic sinusitis is a therapeutic challenge. The use of endoscopic middle meatal cultures as a noninvasive method to determine the bacteriology of the maxillary sinus has not accurately been established. The aim of this study was to review the literature that compares cultures obtained by endoscopic middle meatal swabs with those obtained from maxillary sinus aspirates (MSAs). Methods: We reviewed studies published between January 1966 and October 2003 that were identified from searches of multiple databases, bibliographies, and original articles. Studies were included for analysis if they compared the results of endoscopic middle meatal cultures to aspirate cultures. All clinical variables and test performances were independently extracted by two reviewers. Results: Middle meatal culture had a per isolate accuracy of 82% (95% confidence interval, 0.64, 0.92) compared with MSA (excluding coagulase negative staphylococcus and fungal cultures). Conclusion: Endoscopic middle meatal cultures have a high concordance with MSAs.
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