Nasal polyps are semi-translucent mucosal outgrowths of the paranasal sinuses which typically arise in the setting of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Nasal polyps are also associated with asthma, aspirin sensitivity, cystic fibrosis and allergic fungal rhinosinusitis (AFS). The majority of nasal polyps are bilateral and characterized by tissue edema and eosinophil infiltration. Patients with nasal polyps often present with complaints including nasal obstruction, congestion, rhinorrhea or altered sense of smell. The differential diagnosis ranges from benign masses such as schneiderian papilloma, antrochoanal polyp, angiofibroma and encephalocele to malignant neoplasms such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), esthesioneuroblastoma, nasal lymphoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. These lesions may have a similar appearance as nasal polyps and particular attention to an alternative diagnosis for nasal polyps should be entertained if the mass is unilateral or congenital in nature. Workup for patients with a unilateral mass should include radiographic imaging, possible biopsy and careful follow-up when appropriate. Here, we review the disease etiology of nasal polyps and describe the approach to the patient with nasal polyps with emphasis on differential diagnosis and workup.
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