DOI: 10.1002/ohn.468 ISSN:

Treatment Outcomes With Conservative Management of Frontal Sinus Outflow Tract Fractures

Steven Kennedy Dennis, Toby O. Steele, Amarbir S. Gill, Joshua C. Hwang, Kamron S. Sarhadi, Karmtej S. Cheema, Sukhkaran S. Aulakh, Machelle D. Wilson, E. Bradley Strong
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery



Historically, early surgical management of frontal sinus outflow tract (FSOT) fractures has been standard practice. There has been a paradigm shift toward nonsurgical or delayed management. Unfortunately, clinical indications and treatment outcomes for this approach are poorly understood. This study evaluates radiologic indicators, as well as sinus reaeration and complication rates for FSOT injuries treated nonsurgically.

Study Design

A retrospective cohort study of FSOT injuries between 2005 and 2019.


Academic, tertiary care medical center.


Radiographic fracture patterns of the frontal ostia (FO) and frontal recess (FR) were recorded as either patent, disrupted, or obstructed. Sinus reaeration, surgical rescue, and complication rates were documented. Patients with follow‐up imaging >42 days were included. Patients undergoing immediate surgical intervention were excluded.


One hundred patients were identified and 44 met the criteria (88 sinuses). Among nonobstructed FSOT injuries (ie, patent or disrupted), reaeration occurred in 91% of the FO and 98% of FR injuries. Two sinuses required surgical rescue including 1 Draf IIB (1%), and 1 obliteration (1%). Two sinuses had complications including 1 mucocele (1%) and 1 cerebrospinal fluid leak (1%). FO and FR fracture patterns had no identifiable correlation with long‐term reaeration rates or the need for surgical intervention.


Among nonobstructive injuries to the FSOT, average reaeration rates in observed patients were high (91%‐98%). Rescue surgery (2%) and complication rates (2%) were low, suggesting that nonsurgical management of nonobstructed FSOT is a viable strategy. No radiographic features were clearly identified to be predictive of sinus reaeration.

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