Cysts of the maxillary sinus: a literature review

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2013 Sep;3(9):766-71. doi: 10.1002/alr.21177. Epub 2013 May 15.


Background: Patients with isolated mucosal cysts of the maxillary sinus (MMC) often undergo surgical treatment despite the absence of relevant symptoms. Some physicians believe that MMC might increase in size and cause complications in the future. The anticipated value of this study is to consolidate and improve the understanding of MMC based on published data and to contribute to avoiding unnecessary interventions.

Methods: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature regarding definition, etiology, epidemiology, natural course, and best treatment of MMC.

Results: Among the 988 papers found in the literature search, 33 studies were selected to be relevant. Among those studies, there are only a few prospective controlled studies. Their prevalence rates range broadly from 3.6% to 35.6% according to different diagnostic methods as well as different indications for imaging. Recent prospective studies showed no correlation of MMC with sinonasal complaints or Lund-Mackay computed tomography (CT) score. The natural course is characterized by a decrease in size of MMC in 30% of the cases, an unchanged status in 50% to 60%, and an increase in 8% to 20% of the cases.

Conclusion: MMC are harmless, mostly asymptomatic lesions that usually do not need surgical treatment. If surgery is indicated, endonasal endoscopic techniques should be the gold-standard approach.

Keywords: FESS; epidemiology; maxillary sinus cyst; natural course; review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cysts / diagnosis*
  • Cysts / epidemiology*
  • Cysts / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Endoscopy
  • Humans
  • Maxillary Sinus / diagnostic imaging
  • Maxillary Sinus / pathology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed