Purulent pansinusitis, orbital cellulitis and rhinogenic intracranial complications

J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2001 Apr;29(2):111-7. doi: 10.1054/jcms.2001.0192.


Objectives: Acute pansinusitis is rarely seen in the maxillofacial surgery field, but often occurs in combination with orbital and intracranial involvement. Clinically this entity is of great importance, since it represents a severe disease with possibly disastrous consequences.

Patients: Aetiology, diagnosis and therapy of acute pansinusitis and its complications were analysed in 36 patients treated surgically from 1987 to 1996.

Results: Eighteen patients were aged between 3 and 21-years-old. Only eight suffered from pure pansinusitis, and three of an isolated purulent orbital infection. Of these 25 patients 20 had (pan-)sinusitis with orbital, three with intracranial, and two with both orbital and intracranial complications. Intracranial involvement included meningitis, empyema and brain abscess. Aetiology was rhinogenic in 26, odontogenic in six patients, and traumatic in two cases. Radiological work-up included conventional radiographs and CT in most cases, MRI was only used with special indications. Microbiological examination detected single or multiple species of micro-organisms with equal frequency. If multiple species were found, infection was mostly aerobic/anaerobic in combination.

Conclusion: These purulent processes, frequently seen in young patients, require immediate surgical intervention and drainage with elimination of the cause of the disease if possible. Cooperation with other specialities is essential depending on the spread of the disease. In spite of the threatening acute symptoms, severe courses of disease or permanent defects should be avoidable.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bacterial Infections / classification
  • Brain Abscess / etiology
  • Cellulitis / diagnosis
  • Cellulitis / etiology*
  • Cellulitis / microbiology
  • Cellulitis / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drainage
  • Empyema / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / etiology
  • Nose Diseases / complications*
  • Orbital Diseases / diagnosis
  • Orbital Diseases / etiology*
  • Orbital Diseases / microbiology
  • Orbital Diseases / surgery
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis
  • Sinusitis / etiology*
  • Sinusitis / microbiology
  • Sinusitis / surgery
  • Suppuration
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tooth Diseases / complications*