Fractures of the posterolateral maxillary sinus: a masticator space blowout injury?

William K. Erly, Jennifer L. Becker, Radha Inampudi, Seung (John) Hur, Kambiz Nael, Wayne S. Kubal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and purpose: Segmental, depressed fractures of the posterolateral maxillary sinus may occur as a result of trauma to the masticator space, previously described in association with mandibular fractures. The authors hypothesize that the fracture is due to a transient increase in pressure in the masticator space (blow out) and therefore should be seen in association with other regional fractures. Materials and methods: Injuries of the masticator space were retrospectively identified by searching the imaging database from January 2014 to November 2014 for keywords that would identify regional trauma. The images were reviewed for segmental depressed fractures in the posterolateral aspect of the maxillary sinus accompanied by herniation of a variable amount of masticator space fat and/or muscle into the adjacent sinus. Three neuroradiologists reviewed the images and agreed by consensus on the presence or absence of a masticator space blowout fracture. Results: Forty-three zygomaticomaxillary complex (ZMC) fractures, 89 mandibular fractures, and 49 isolated zygomatic arch fractures were identified. While all of the ZMC fractures had a maxillary component, 3 of 43 (7.0 %) additional fractures met our fracture definition. Five of 89 (5.6 %) of the mandibular fractures and 6 of 49 (12.2 %) zygomatic arch fractures had an associated posterolateral maxillary fracture. Conclusions: Segmental depressed fracture of the posterolateral maxillary sinus is relatively common, occurring in conjunction with other regional injuries. The authors hypothesize that it is due to a transient increase in pressure in the masticator space and is a separate entity from other fractures of the region that may occur concurrently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-442
Number of pages4
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • CT
  • Fracture
  • Isolated
  • Lateral
  • Masticator
  • Maxillary sinus
  • Posterior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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