The paranasal sinuses allow the skull to be lighter. They also provide vital functions for respiratory exchange. They consist of the frontal, ethmoid, maxillary and sphenoid sinuses. These all connect with the nasal cavity. They form portions of the skull base. Fractures of these structures are common. When they occur, bleeding can occur within the sinus. Isolation of a segment of the lining of the sinus can lead to the development of a mucocele. Disruption of the skull base can lead to the spread of infection into the brain and the development of a cerebrospinal fluid fistula, where fluid leaks out of the brain.
Causes of Sinus Fracture
Sinus fractures almost exclusively come from trauma. Destructive lesions such as cancer or some types of infections can lead to weakened areas of the sinus wall that can fracture unexpectedly.
Signs and Symptoms of Sinus Fracture
Pain, swelling and areas of bruising are common with sinus fractures. Blood may drain down the nasal cavity and be swallowed or aspirated. Extensive fractures can lead to instability of a portion of the face, the Le Forte fractures. Clear or bloody fluid can drain out of the ear, the nose or down the throat when the skull base and linings of the brain have become disrupted. Bacterial entering the brain through sinus fractures can lead to epidural abscess, brain abscess and meningitis. These are associated with headache, fever, chills and possibly stiff neck.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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