The evolution of surgery on the maxillary sinus for chronic rhinosinusitis

Laryngoscope. 2002 Mar;112(3):415-9. doi: 10.1097/00005537-200203000-00001.


Objective: To examine the management of the maxillary sinus in chronic rhinosinusitis over the last 500 years.

Method: A literature review was conducted.

Result: The maxillary sinus was first recognized in the 16th century and its role as a source of infection became the focus of attention, beginning with Nathaniel Highmore in 1651 and continuing up until the 21st century. The surgical drainage of the sinus was achieved by a variety of routes, including the alveolar margin, anterior wall and middle and inferior meati. The rationale for these procedures, developed in a pre-antibiotic era, may be re-examined in the context of our present understanding of the pathophysiology of chronic rhinosinusitis.

Conclusion: The maxillary sinus has been the focus of surgical attention from the 17th century onward largely as a result of its size and accessibility, initially reinforced by plain x-ray. However, in the 20th century, the advent of computed tomography and nasal endoscopy has reaffirmed the relationship of the maxillary sinus to the ostiomeatal complex in chronic rhinosinusitis, as originally demonstrated by pioneers such as Zuckerkandl, and redirected the focus of our therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • General Surgery / history*
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Maxillary Sinus / surgery*
  • Maxillary Sinusitis / history*
  • Maxillary Sinusitis / surgery