• frontal sinus surgery;
  • endoscopic sinus surgery;
  • revision surgery;
  • recalcitrant frontal sinusitis;
  • chronic rhinosinusitis


The frontal sinus is the most challenging area to address in endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS). Incomplete surgery or iatrogenic injury in the narrow space of the frontal recess with synechia formation can lead to recurrence or persistence of disease. The goal of this study was to identify causes of failure of endoscopic frontal sinus surgery and to determine complication rates.


A cross-sectional retrospective study was conducted. Charts and preoperative sinus computed tomography (CT) scans of patients who underwent revision frontal ESS for chronic frontal rhinosinusitis, between 2006 and 2012 were reviewed.


Of 829 patients who underwent ESS during the study period, 740 had the frontal recess dissected and frontal sinus opened. Of these, 66 patients had revision surgery of the frontal sinus, with a total of 109 frontal sinuses. The mean ± standard deviation (SD) age was 52 ± 12.9 years. Forty patients were male (59.1%). The most common findings were the following: edematous or hypertrophic mucosa (92.7%); retained agger nasi cell (73.4%); neo-osteogenesis within the frontal recess (45.9%); lateral scarring of the middle turbinate (47.7%); residual anterior ethmoid air cell (32.1.%); and residual frontal cells (24.8%).


With the exception of mucosal disease and neo-osteogenesis, all identified causes of failure of frontal sinus surgery are a result of surgical technique. Careful preoperative planning and meticulous and complete surgical execution are therefore critical for a successful surgical outcome in primary frontal sinus surgery.