Indications for external frontal sinus procedures for inflammatory sinus disease

Samuel Hahn, James N. Palmer, Michael T. Purkey, David W. Kennedy, Alexander G. Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background: In the modern age of endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS), there is an undefined role for external approaches in the treatment of inflammatory disease. This study examines the frontal sinus surgery practices of three experienced rhinologists with a focus on those who underwent an external approach. Our goal was to characterize these patients and propose indications for the use of an external approach alone or in combination with functional ESS (FESS) for frontal sinus inflammatory disease. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of frontal sinus procedures performed for inflammatory disease at one institution from 2004 to 2007. Results: Seven hundred seventeen procedures were performed, 38 (5.3%) of which were external alone (14 procedures) or in combination with FESS (24 procedures). Osteoplastic flap with obliteration (12/14) made up the majority of external alone procedures and the most common indication was neo-osteogenesis of the frontal recess. Trephination was the most common external adjunct to FESS (12/24), and often was performed for type 3 frontal recess cells or in the initial management of acute frontal bone osteomyelitis (FOM). Twenty-eight of 38 (74%) patients had a history of previous surgery. Of the 10 patients with no history of previous surgery, 6 (60%) had an external adjunct for frontal recess neo-osteogenesis. There were no major complications but 9/38 (23.7%) patients required revision surgery for persistent/recurrent symptoms. Conclusion: External approaches alone and in combination with FESS are predominantly secondary to neo-osteogenesis of the frontal recess. Factors associated with neo-osteogenesis include previous trauma, endoscopic surgery, and FOM. External frontal sinus surgery provides adequate management of inflammatory disease but has a high revision rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-347
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology and Allergy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Chronic rhinosinusitis
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Frontal osteomyelitis
  • Frontal sinus
  • Frontal trauma
  • Osteoplastic flap
  • Sinussurgery
  • Trephine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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