Assessment of Pliability and Elasticity of the External Nasal Skin in Patients With Unilateral Nasal Valve Collapse: A Static Biomechanical Evaluation

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Abstract

Importance

Understanding the skin biomechanics, specifically pliability and elasticity, in patients with nasal valve collapse may allow for new methods to assess which patients require more advanced nasal valve surgery.

Objective

To test the hypothesis that in patients with unilateral nasal valve collapse, the side of the nose with the collapse will have lower elasticity and increased pliability compared with the normal side, as assessed by a blinded observer using the Cutometer MPA 580.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Prospective, investigator-blinded, case-control cohort study of patients with unilateral nasal valve collapse and subjective nasal obstruction conducted in an academic otolaryngology–head and neck surgery clinic.

Interventions

Patients were assessed using the Cutometer MPA 580 by a blinded assessor. Three measurements were performed bilaterally on the exterior skin of the nose corresponding to the level of the inferior edge of the upper lateral cartilage. Measurements taken at the skin inferior to the zygoma were used as a control.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Primary outcome measures of the nasal skin were pliability (Uf, defined as the lengthening of the skin after 3 seconds of constant load) and elasticity (Ua/Uf, defined as the percentage of the skin that returned to its normal position 3 seconds after the release from the 3-second constant load).

Results

Of the 27 patients included in the study, 15 (56%) were male, and 12 (44%) were female; mean (SD) age, 44 (21) years (range, 16-90 years). There was no difference between the measurements of the skin overlying the area of nasal valve collapse in elasticity: side without collapse (0.960% [0.031%]) vs side with collapse (0.967% [0.036%]) (mean difference, 0.007%; 95% CI, −0.018% to 0.021%) (P = .90). However, there was a significant difference in pliability: side of the nose without collapse (0.520 [0.139] mm) vs side with collapse (0.610 [0.200]) (mean difference, 0.090 mm; 95% CI, 0.014-0.156 mm) (P = .02).

Conclusions and Relevance

Although the skin in patients with nasal valve collapse appears to maintain its elasticity, it demonstrates an increased ability to stretch and lengthen compared with nasal skin of those without valve collapse. Future studies are required to determine whether the biomechanical changes are related to the length and severity of nasal obstruction, or whether these changes in the skin may help predict who will benefit from nasal valve surgery and whether these patients are at an increased risk of surgical failure.

Level of Evidence

2.

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