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N Engl J Med. 1983 Nov 10;309(19):1149-54.

Sphenoid sinusitis. A review of 30 cases.


We studied 30 patients with infectious sphenoid sinusitis (15 acute cases and 15 chronic cases) in an effort to characterize the clinical presentation, bacteriology, and associated complications of this frequently misdiagnosed infection. Severe frontal, temporal, or retro-orbital headache that radiated to the occipital regions or pain in the trigeminal (V1 to V3) distribution or both were the most prominent presenting symptoms. In acute cases, purulent exudate was frequently seen in the middle and superior nasal turbinates. Computerized axial tomography or sinus tomography and cannulation of the sphenoid sinus proved to be the most useful diagnostic studies. Organisms detected in acute cases included streptococci other than Streptococcus pneumoniae (41 per cent), Staphylococcus aureus (29 per cent), and Str. pneumoniae (17 per cent). In chronic infections, gram-negative bacilli (43 per cent) and staphylococcal species (24 per cent) were the predominant organisms. In acute disease, early diagnosis and aggressive therapy, including surgical drainage, were important. Delay in treatment was always associated with serious morbidity or mortality. Fatal complications included cavernous sinus thrombosis and bacterial meningitis.

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