Sample collection for laboratory-based study of the nasal airway and sinuses: a research compendium

Conner J. Massey, Fernando Diaz Del Valle, Waleed M. Abuzeid, Joshua M. Levy, Sarina Mueller, Corrina G. Levine, Stephanie S. Smith, Benjamin S. Bleier, Vijay R. Ramakrishnan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Collection of biologic samples from the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses is of critical importance to the study of infectious or inflammatory conditions that affect both upper and lower airways. Numerous techniques for the study of ex-vivo samples exist, with specific applications, strengths, and weaknesses associated with each of them. In this compendium we summarize the available methods for collection of primary human samples and incorporate expert discussion of the pros, cons, and applications associated with each technique. Methods: An expert panel containing members of the American Rhinologic Society's Research and Grants Committee compiled this educational reference. Rationale for use and the potential advantages and disadvantages are discussed. Research protocols and key references are enumerated. Results: Sampling of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses can be achieved through a number of methods. Nonspecific sinonasal secretions may be collected via forced exhalation, nasal lavage, and nasal spray aspiration. Targeted collection of sinonasal secretions may be achieved via endoscopic placement of absorbent matrices. Nasal cytology or collection of superficial epithelium may be completed via brushing or scraping of endonasal structures. Collection of mucosal biopsies may be completed via sinonasal explant or full-thickness biopsy. Conclusion: Multiple sampling techniques are available to collect biologic samples from the sinonasal cavity. These techniques differ in their ease of application, reproducibility, sample yield, and utility for different sinonasal pathologies or research goals. An appreciation of the benefits and drawbacks of each approach will allow investigators to select the techniques most appropriate for achieving research objectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • clinical protocols
  • cytologic techniques
  • exosomes
  • nasal cavity
  • nasal lavage fluid
  • nasal mucosa
  • paranasal sinuses
  • sinusitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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