Paranasal sinus mucosal hypertrophy in experienced divers

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2011 Oct;82(10):992-4. doi: 10.3357/asem.3013.2011.


Introduction: Due to the increasing popularity in recreational diving long-term health consequences of this sport have aroused interest in the diving community. Although not as important as dysbaric osteonecrosis, ischemic brain lesions, or neurophysiological symptoms, paranasal sinus mucosal hypertrophy (PSMH) has also been discussed as being more prevalent among divers. In this study, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare asymptomatic divers with control subjects for PSMH.

Methods: We enrolled 79 male divers (34.0 +/- 5.7 yr) and 79 nondiving age- and sex-matched controls (33.8 +/- 6.1 yr). We used a questionnaire to elicit diving history. Divers with a history of sinus barotrauma, subjects with a history of chronic sinusitis or nasal allergies, and those with retention cysts, nasal polyps, or mastoiditis were excluded. T1-, T2-weighted axial and coronal images of the paranasal sinuses were taken with a 1.5-T MRI device. The threshold for PSMH was defined as mucosal thickness above 3 mm.

Results: MRI revealed PSMH in 33 (41.8%) divers and 18 (22.8%) controls. There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to age, smoking history, or alcohol consumption. PSMH identified in divers did not show an association with age or diving history.

Discussion: The higher rate of PSMH identified in divers suggests that diving may cause changes in the paranasal sinus mucosa.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Paranasal Sinuses / pathology*