Evaluation and surgical management of isolated sphenoid sinus disease

Timothy J. Martin, Timothy L. Smith, Michelle M. Smith, Todd A. Loehrl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the pathologic conditions, preoperative evaluation, treatment, and clinical outcomes associated with sphenoid sinus disease. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: Tertiary university-based referral center. Patients: All patients with isolated sphenoid sinus disease managed surgically or in which surgery was considered a primary treatment option. Main Outcome Measures: Demographic data, presenting signs and symptoms, endoscopic and imaging findings, surgical management, surgical pathology, and clinical outcomes were investigated in patients presenting with sphenoid sinus disease to the Medical College of Wisconsin, MilWaukee, between January 1, 1991, and December 31, 2001. Results: The study population included 17 women and 12 men with a mean age of 52.3 years (range, 15-82 years). The most common presenting symptom was headache (20 patients [69%]). Imaging evaluation included computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging studies in all cases. Sphenoid sinus abnormality was variable and included sinusitis (11 patients [38%]), tumor (7 [24%]), mucocele (5 [17%]), fungal process (3 [10%]), and cerebrospinal fluid fistula (3 [10%]). Twenty-one cases (72%) were managed endoscopically and 4 (14%) were managed with a transseptal approach. One patient (3%) underwent combined extracranial-endoscopic transnasal approach, while another (3%) underwent a midface degloving approach. The remaining 2 patients (7%) did not undergo surgical intervention. Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of noninflammatory lesions within the sphenoid sinus, thorough preoperative evaluation is imperative. Initially, this should include nasal endoscopy and computed tomography to help define the location, extent, and character of the lesion. In some cases, magnetic resonance imaging may help further define the nature and extent of a lesion. Angiography should be considered if a vascular lesion is suspected. The clinical and imaging findings should all be taken into consideration when the surgical approach is planned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1413-1419
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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