Functional Outcomes, Quantitative Morphometry, and Aesthetic Analysis of Articulated Alar Rim Grafts in Septorhinoplasty

Key Points

Question  Is the articulated alar rim graft (AARG) associated with improved function of the nasal airway and aesthetic outcomes?

Findings  This case series of 90 patients examined the creation, placement, and function of the AARG. A retrospective review showed statistically significant improvement in Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation Survey scores in patients who had AARGs placed; aesthetic analysis by raters on a Likert scale showed cosmetic improvement in patients with a deep alar margin furrow; and morphometric analysis of preoperative and postoperative nasal base shapes showed a trend toward a more equilateral ideal shape.

Meaning  The AARG may improve the functional airway in select patients and the aesthetics of the nose in patients with a significant alar margin furrow or a pinched-appearing nasal tip.

Importance  The design, use, and indications for the articulated alar rim graft (AARG) and the functional and aesthetic improvements that can be achieved have not been fully characterized.

Objective  To analyze the functional and aesthetic outcomes of AARG placement on nasal airway function, nasal base shape change, and appearance.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A case series study of patients who underwent septorhinoplasty with placement of AARG at University of California, Irvine Medical Center, from 2015 to 2018 was carried out. Surgical data recorded included stage of rhinoplasty (primary vs revision), use of spreader grafts, rim grafts (and dimensions), caudal septal extension graft (CSEG), lateral crural tensioning (LCT), and turbinate reductions.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Preoperative and postoperative Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation Survey (NOSE) surveys were analyzed and correlated with AARG geometry, use of CSEG, and the LCT maneuver. Preoperative and postoperative alar base views were evaluated by fitting base shape to a parametric numerical model to categorize each to 1 of 6 shape categories. Blinded reviewers rated alar furrow severity and the alar ridge presence using a Likert scale for both preoperative and postoperative images to subjectively gauge aesthetic outcomes.

Results  Overall, 90 patients with both preoperative and postoperative NOSE scores who underwent septorhinoplasty and placement of an AARG were included. Of the 90 patients, 60 were women (mean age, 38.2 years). Patient NOSE scores (70.4 preoperatively to 25.1 postoperatively) significantly improved from preoperation to postoperation (P < .001), regardless of AARG size, CSEG, or LCT. Alar base shape parametric analysis showed preoperative to postoperative improvements were significant for anterior-to-posterior ratio mass distribution (95% CI, −0.16 to 0.02; P = .05) and vertical projection-to-horizontal base width ratio (95% CI, 0.01-0.32; P = .02) in flat noses and cloverleafing for narrow noses (95% CI, −0.05 to −0.01; P = .001); enhancement approached significance for reduction in lateral scalloping in cloverleaf noses (P = .06). Aesthetic analysis showed that there was a statistically significant improvement for the alar furrow (95% CI, −0.68 to −0.29 for rater 1; −0.54 to −0.27 for rater 2; and −0.59 to −0.27 for rater 3; P < .001) for all raters and for the alar ridge (95% CI, 0.16-0.48; P < .001) for 1 rater.

Conclusions and Relevance  To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that AARG use is associated with statistically significant improvement in NOSE scores. Placement of AARGs may improve posterior mass ratios in flat noses and lateral cloverleafing in narrow noses as suggested by quantitative shape change parameter analysis. The placement of AARGs was associated with aesthetic and functional enhancement in the cloverleaf deformity, which is associated with a prominent alar furrow, and often external nasal valve collapse. Patient selection is key when placing AARGs.

Level of Evidence  NA.

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