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The natural history and clinical characteristics of paranasal sinus mucoceles: a clinical review


  • Potential conflict of interest: None provided.



A retrospective data analysis at a university tertiary referral center was conducted to characterize the natural history, clinical characteristics, management principles, and outcomes of paranasal sinus mucoceles.


A chart review was performed on 102 patients with a total of 133 paranasal sinus mucoceles who were treated between 1987 and 2011 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


The study population included patients with a mean age of 53.1 years (range, 22-82 years). Patients were diagnosed with a mucocele on average 5.3 years following prior functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), 17.7 years following prior paranasal sinus trauma, and 18.1 years following prior open sinus surgery. The most common presenting symptoms were headache (42.1%) and maxillofacial pressure (28.6%). The most common sites were the frontal, frontoethmoidal, and ethmoid sinuses. Fifty-seven mucoceles (44.9%) had intraorbital extension, intracranial extension, or both. Out of 133 mucoceles, 114 underwent ESS without complication.


The length of time between prior surgery or trauma and mucocele presentation highlights the importance of long-term follow-up in both patient care and in the understanding and reporting of surgical outcomes. In this study, most patients exhibited nonspecific symptomatology despite extensive mucoceles and a significant incidence of orbital and skull-base erosion. The endoscopic approach can be safely used for the management of such lesions.