Ophthalmic Presentation and Outcome for Sinonasal Mucoceles

Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2023 Jan-Feb;39(1):44-48. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000002234. Epub 2022 Jun 14.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate ophthalmic features and outcomes for patients who present with sinonasal mucoceles expanding into the orbit.

Patients and methods: Retrospective chart review for patients seen in a specialist orbital clinic over 25 years, with a review of demographics, clinical characteristics, imaging features, and outcomes after treatment.

Results: Sixty patients (38 males; 63%) presented at a mean age of 51 years (range 3-89). Symptom duration was extremely variable (1 week-15 years) with a mean of 14 months and median of 4 months-the commonest being periorbital swelling (33/62 orbits) or ache (20 orbits), proptosis (30 orbits), and diplopia (19/50 patients without visual impairment; 38%). Of mucoceles affecting orbital function, 60/62 (97%) were of frontal and/or ethmoid sinus origin, and probable predispositions included past trauma (12/62 orbits) or prior ipsilateral sinus surgery (14 orbits). Forty-two of the 59 (71%) patients who underwent sinus surgery had complete resolution of symptoms within 6 months. Of 10 orbits presenting with moderate to severe visual loss (Snellen 20/60 or worse), the acuity improved in 7/10 (70%) of these after sinus surgery. Although 12/62 (19%) of eyes presented with epiphora, this persisted after sinus surgery in 9 orbits, and areas of occult malignant change were found in 3/9 (33%).

Conclusion: Sinus mucoceles expanding into the orbit can cause significant globe displacement, dysmotility, or visual impairment. Symptoms usually resolve within several months after functional sinus surgery, but where symptoms persist (particularly periorbital swelling or epiphora) this might indicate underlying secondary causes, such as occult malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exophthalmos* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases* / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucocele* / diagnosis
  • Mucocele* / surgery
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases* / complications
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Young Adult