Patterns and sequelae of sphenoid sinus fractures

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Am J Rhinol Allergy


BACKGROUND: The sphenoid sinus is one of the most commonly fractured regions of the skull base after blunt head trauma. These fractures may be associated with complications such as blunt carotid artery injury (BCAI) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. Association of these sequelae with sphenoid sinus fractures has yet to be analyzed thoroughly in the literature.

OBJECTIVE: Analyze patterns of traumatic sphenoid sinus fractures and assess relationships between fracture patterns and incidence of BCAI and traumatic nasal CSF leaks.

METHODS: A retrospective review of 123 patients sustaining sphenoid sinus fractures was performed. Patient medical records and radiographic images were reviewed. Fractures were classified based on the sinus walls involved. Logistic and linear regressions were used to analyze associations between injury mechanisms, fracture subsites, and sequelae.

RESULTS: The most commonly fractured sphenoid sinus subsites included the carotid canal, sphenoid roof, and lateral wall (60%, 49% and 48%, respectively). CSF leaks occurred in 9% of sphenoid sinus fractures, whereas BCAI occurred in 1.6%. On logistic regression, sphenoid roof fractures were significantly associated with CSF leaks (odds ratio [OR] = 12.4, p = 0.002). No fracture subsite was associated with BCAI. The positive predictive value (PPV) of sphenoid roof fractures for the presence of CSF leaks was 17%, whereas the negative predictive value (NPV) was 98%. The PPV of carotid canal fractures for BCAI was 3%, whereas the NPV was 100%. There was no association between the number of fractured sinus walls and the incidence of BCAI or CSF leak. Penetrating injuries were significantly associated with CSF leak (OR = 24.7, p = 0.01), but no other injury mechanisms were associated with BCAI or CSF leak.

CONCLUSION: Nasal CSF leak was the most common sequela of sphenoid sinus fractures, whereas BCAI was extremely uncommon. Analysis of fracture patterns can be useful in determining the need for additional evaluation.

Medical Subject Headings

Carotid Artery Injuries; Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea; Humans; Logistic Models; Retrospective Studies; Skull Fractures; Sphenoid Sinus; Tomography, X-Ray Computed

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