Isolated sphenoid sinus pathology: spectrum of diagnostic and treatment modalities

Auris Nasus Larynx. 2008 Dec;35(4):500-8. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2007.10.011. Epub 2008 Feb 1.


Objective: Isolated sphenoid sinus pathology is a relatively uncommon entity. The present study is a retrospective review of 40 patients with isolated sphenoid sinus pathology who were treated at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Alexandria University between July 2002 and December 2005. Special emphasis will be given to the role of various endoscopic approaches in the surgical management of isolated sphenoid sinus pathology. Factors that govern the selection of each approach will be discussed.

Methods: Extracted data included patient demographics, clinical presentation, imaging studies, treatment modalities and complications. Sphenoid sinus was approached through one of the following three approaches: (1) endoscopic transnasal approach, (2) endoscopic transseptal approach and (3) endoscopic transpterygoid approach. Outcome measures were based on assessment of patients' symptoms and confirmation of a patent sphenoid sinus by office endoscopy.

Results: The pathology spectrum was rather wide and included 26 (65%) inflammatory conditions (acute/chronic sphenoiditis, mucoceles, and fungal sinusitis), 7 (17.5%) neoplasms and 7 (17.5%) miscellaneous conditions (cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea, sphenochoanal polyp, and fibrous dysplasia). The most common initial symptom was headache (50%) followed by ophthalmological symptoms (22.5%). Other presenting symptoms included CSF leak in five patients, epistaxis in four patients and nasal obstruction and/or rhinorrhea in two patients. Radiological workup included computed tomography (CT) scan of the paranasal sinuses in all patients. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in 21 patients (52.5%). The most common indication was a sphenoid mass based on endoscopic and CT findings. Four patients with acute/chronic sphenoiditis were successfully treated with medical therapy. One patient with fibrous dysplasia did not require any definitive treatment. Thirty-five patients underwent endoscopic surgery under general anaesthesia. An adjuvant radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy was utilized in two patients.

Conclusions: A high index of clinical suspicion, routine office nasal endoscopy and radiological imaging are central to making an accurate and timely diagnosis of isolated sphenoid sinus pathology. Surgical treatment of sphenoid pathology can be safely and successfully performed through a variety of endoscopic approaches. Selection of the most appropriate endoscopic approach is governed by the nature and location of sphenoid pathology as well as the anatomical configuration of the sphenoid sinus.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / diagnosis
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sphenoid Sinus* / pathology
  • Sphenoid Sinus* / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed