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The diagnostic significance of posttraumatic sphenoid sinus effusions: Correlation with head computed tomography

  • Stephen F. Quinn
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to: Stephen F. Quinn, MD, Department of Radiology, Box 170, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908.
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Radiology, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

    Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, 510 Kingshighway, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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  • Ralph L. Smathers
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Radiology, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

    Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, 510 Kingshighway, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Search for articles by this author
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      Abstract

      In review of 1544 patients with both head computed tomography (CT) examinations and skull radiographs, 150 patients were found to have a history of acute head trauma. Twenty-nine of these patients had sphenoid sinus effusions. Ninety-three percent (Math Eq) of those cases had abnormal CT examinations, as compared with 48% (Math Eq) of cases without sphenoid effusions. Of the patients with sphenoid effusions, 31% (Math Eq) had intracerebral hematomas, 24% (Math Eq) had extracerebral hematomas, 13% (Math Eq) had pneumocephalus, and 13% (Math Eq) had cerebral edema. We conclude that the presence of posttraumatic sphenoid sinus effusion on the skull radiograph is a sensitive sign for intracranial damage and serves as an emergent indication for head CT.

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