Prevalence, location, and size of maxillary sinus septa: panoramic radiograph versus computed tomography scan

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Feb;69(2):507-11. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2010.10.033.


Purpose: To determine the prevalence, location, and size of maxillary sinus septa, and to compare the results of panoramic radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Materials and methods: This study included 30 patients, 17 women and 13 men, with a mean age of 50.9 years (range, 28-73 years), undergoing treatment planning for implant-supported restorations in the maxilla. Three observers analyzed the panoramic radiographs, the conventional CT scans in acetate, and the Implametric 3-dimensional CT (3Dent, Valencia, Spain). The maxillary sinus septa of each patient and the type of septa, as well as its location and size, were recorded.

Results: In 60 maxillary sinuses, panoramic radiographs showed 32 septa (53.3%); CT in acetate showed 42 septa (70%); and Implametric 3-dimensional CT showed 40 septa (66.7%). Most septa (60%) were located in the middle region of the maxillary sinus, 22.5% in the posterior region, and 17.5% in the anterior region. The mean height of the septa was 4.78 ± 1.76 mm. Panoramic radiographs led to an erroneous diagnosis in 46.5% of the cases.

Conclusions: Maxillary sinus septa are a frequent anatomic variation. They can be found in any of the maxillary sinus regions independently of patient edentulism. The panoramic radiograph can lead to false-positive and false-negative findings in the visualization of septa in almost half of cases. Therefore, whenever a maxillary sinus lift is planned, a thorough study of the affected sinus should be made using CT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cephalometry
  • Dental Implantation, Endosseous
  • Dental Prosthesis, Implant-Supported
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / statistics & numerical data
  • Jaw, Edentulous / diagnostic imaging
  • Jaw, Edentulous, Partially / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Maxilla / diagnostic imaging
  • Maxillary Sinus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Maxillary Sinus / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Radiography, Panoramic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / statistics & numerical data