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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2004 May;68(5):619-25.

Simultaneous intracranial and orbital complications of acute rhinosinusitis in children.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8115, St. Louis, MO 63110-1077, USA.



To evaluate the frequency of intracranial and orbital complications occurring as simultaneous but separate complications of acute rhinosinusitis in the pediatric population.


Records of children admitted to St. Louis Children's Hospital between 1 January 1990 and 31 December 2002 were reviewed. Relevant literature was reviewed with the assistance of Medline.


We identified 74 patients with orbital complications related to acute rhinosinusitis. A bimodal age distribution was identified with one group above and one group below the age of 7 years. The frequency of intracranial complications in pediatric patients already admitted for orbital complications of acute rhinosinusitis was 0% for those less than 7 years of age and 9.3% (4/43) for patients 7 years and older. If surgery was required for orbital disease, these risks were 0 and 24% (4/17), respectively. The review found that patients with dual complications had a mean age of 15 years, 11 months, were male (100%), had subperiosteal abscesses located superiorly or superolaterally within the orbit, and presented with significant frontal sinus disease. All intraoperative cultures were polymicrobial. MRI was superior to CT for identification of intracranial extension.


Simultaneous intracranial and orbital complications are rare but significant occurrences in acute pediatric rhinosinusitis. Because of the high incidence of intracranial findings, we recommend MRI in addition to CT scan along with aggressive management in children older than 7 years of age admitted with orbital complications of acute rhinosinusitis who also demonstrate risk factors for intracranial disease. These risk factors are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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