Overview of the Sphenoid Sinus Cavity

Posted in Sinus Cavities

What is sphenoid sinus cavity? Sphenoid sinus cavity is a hollow or pocket like structure present at the centre of skull. Most of the time their sizes varies from person to person, however, the average measurements of sphenoid sinus cavity are height-2.2 cm; breadth-2 cm; antero-posterior depth-2.2 cm. Sphenoid sinus cavities are found in paired form. These cavities are separated by an inter-sphenoidal septum.

Sphenoid sinus cavity Location: The sphenoid sinuses are located at the center of the skull, at deep in the skull behind the ethmoid sinuses and the eyes. They are located exactly at deepest inside the head, behind and above the nasopharynx. These sinuses lie under the pituitary gland in the sphenoid bone. Technically its location is explained as superior to nasopharynx, inferior to pituitary gland, anterior to the pons and posterior to ethmoid sinuses.

Sphenoid sinus cavity development: The sphenoid sinuses appear like a small void at birth. The sinuses start forming as evaginations from posterior nasopharynx at the 3rd fetal month and remain underdeveloped until the ages around three to five years. They begin to grow and slowly enlarge to the size of large grapes. They finally reach at full developmental stage during the late teenage years.

Sphenoid sinus cavity signs and symptoms: The usual signs and symptoms of headache associated with sphenoid sinus are a retro-orbital, frontal and vertex headache. The headache is intermittent and recurrent in nature and usually occurs at nights. It may prolong from weeks to years. Headaches may aggravate sometimes with fatigue, bending down and straining. The second common symptoms are visual problems. These visual problems are most of the time caused by tumor or mucoceles more willingly than sinusitis. The vision problems can be further specified as diplopia, oculomotor palsies, blurred or loss of vision, and exophthalmos. These visual symptoms can be resolved and are curable with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If these are remained as untreated, they may leads to permanent and serious defects like cavernous sinus thrombosis and intracranial extension. These defects are sometimes fetal in nature. The other symptoms include nasal stuffiness and rhinorrhea. Sphenoid sinus may cause panhypopituitarism sometimes, however, it is a rare symptom associated with sphenoid sinus.

Sphenoid sinus diseases: The commonly reported diseases related to sphenoid sinuses are sinusitis, mucoceles, tumors, and ophthalmoplegic migraine. Sphenoid sinusitis is mostly caused by staphylococcus, haemophilus influenza, S. pneumonia, E. coli, and proteus. Mucoceles are another disease of sphenoid sinus. It may be a result of either obstruction of the sphenoid sinus ostium due to chronic infection, allergy, tumor and trauma or obstruction of the mucous gland secreting canal in sphenoid sinus lining. The tumor linked with sphenoid sinus is a rare case, however, should not be ignored. Another disease associated with sphenoid sinus is ophthalmoplegic migraine which is usually seen in young generation with symptoms like acute headache, eye pain, nausea and vomiting.

Sphenoid sinus cavity treatment: The sphenoid sinuses are very difficult to examine and infections sometimes cannot identified because of their deep location. When it is detected at early times then it can be cured with very little or no sequelae. A sphenoid sinus disease sometimes leads to permanent neurological outcomes and which may lead to death of the patients. Sphenoid sinusitis is usually treated with anti-staphylococcal antibiotic along with broad spectrum gram-negative antibiotic. The second generation antibiotics like cephalosporins are also effective alternatives in sphenoid sinusitis. The mucoceles are treated by sphenoidotomy with effective results. The sphenoid tumor should be biopsied and removed using radiation therapy which has shown very effective results. If this tumor expands outside sphenoid sinus cavity, it is usually treated with tumor removal.

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