CT scans of 100 patients from the Rhinology Clinic at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital were reviewed in order to test the precepts forming the basis of functional endoscopic sinus surgery, especially as they relate to the radiological investigation. These were: (a) the site of origin of sinus infection. (b) The relevance of certain anatomical variants in the middle meatus to sinus infection and (c) The use of CT as the radiological method of diagnosis in all cases.
Obstruction in the middle meatus and ostiomeatal complex was associated with an increased incidence of opacity in the sinuses but the primary site of disease was not established: the concept that sinus disease takes origin in the middle meatus was not proven.
Anatomical variants in the middle meatus were not associated with an increase in sinus opacity and there was no evidence that these anomalies have any effect on sinus disease by causing middle meatal stenosis.
The radiological assessment of patients with inflammatory naso-sinus disease should start with plain X-ray. CT is unnecessary as a routine examination. It should be reserved for the pre-operative assessment of patients for endoscopic surgery, its main function being to show important anatomical landmarks.
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