OBJECTIVE: Spreader grafts are commonly used in rhinoplasty to achieve an aesthetic improvement of the nose or a functional improvement of the nasal airway. Currently, the aesthetic role of spreader grafts is well established. The functional effect of these grafts, however, has been controversial due to the lack of studies clearly demonstrating an increase on nasal airflow assigned to spreader grafts. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of spreader grafts on nasal breathing.
METHODS: Nasal breathing of 72 consecutive patients undergoing rhinoplasty was evaluated by measuring peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) before surgery and six months after surgery.
RESULTS: The mean preoperative PNIF of the 72 patients included in this study was 79.44 l/min and the mean postoperative PNIF was 110.42 l/min (p < 0.001). In 37 patients of this study no spreader grafts were used. In this group of patients the mean PNIF values changed from 73.24 l/min before surgery to 99.46 l/min after surgery. In the group of 35 patients in whom spreader grafts were used the mean PNIF values changed from 86.00 l/min before surgery to 122.00 l/min after surgery. The increase in the mean PNIF value after rhinoplasty was slightly higher in the group of patients with spreader grafts than in the group of patients without spreader grafts. The difference in the postoperative increase of PNIF between these two groups of patients, however, is not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that patients undergoing rhinoplasty have a statistically significant improvement in nasal breathing after surgery. However, patients receiving spreader grafts in a non-randomized way do not have statistically significant greater benefit than those who do not.