PHOTO GUIDE: Assessing the paranasal sinuses
Richard L. Pullen EdD, RN

May 2010 
Volume 40  Number 5
Pages 49 - 50
  PDF Version Available!

THE PARANASAL SINUSES are air-filled bony cavities within the bones of the skull that are extensions of the respiratory part of the nasal cavities. The sinuses, named for the bones in which they're found (frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid, and maxillary), are connected by narrow openings (ostia) with the superior, middle, and inferior nasal turbinates of the nasal cavity.1The paranasal sinuses have a mucosal lining made up of many ciliated and columnar cells. The cilia help move fluid and microorganisms from the sinuses to the nasal cavity. The sinuses' low oxygen content lets microorganisms grow and impairs local defenses and immune functions.1 Only the frontal and maxillary sinuses are accessible for clinical exam.2Physical assessment of the paranasal sinuses, along with the patient's signs and symptoms, can help you to identify certain conditions such as acute sinusitis involving the frontal or maxillary sinuses.2Before assessing the paranasal sinuses, perform hand hygiene, provide

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