Objectives: To evaluate the value of plain film radiography in a prospective investigation of patients with clinical suspicion of acute sinusitis, using standard CT as a gold standard.
Methods: 47 consecutive patients were examined. Each patient underwent conventional X-ray and standard dose CT examinations on the same day. The sensitivity and specificity of the plain film examination were calculated.
Results: The specificity of the plain film examination was high, but the sensitivity was low except for the maxillary sinus (sensitivity 80%). Thus, for maxillary sinusitis, plain film examination was reasonably accurate. A negative finding in the other sinuses could not be relied upon.
Conclusions: The sensitivity of plain film radiography for detecting sinus opacifications was unacceptably low for the ethmoid, frontal and sphenoid sinuses. The specificity was high.