Updated: 12/17/2021


Review Topic
  • Snapshot
    • A 14-year-old boy presents with recurrent nasal congestion and left suborbital pain of 2 weeks duration. 1 week prior to the onset of these symptoms, he described having a "cold." On physical exam, there is pain over the left maxillary sinus. A CT of the head is shown.(Left maxillary sinusitis)
  • Introduction
    • Infection of the paranasal sinus due to undrained collection of pus
      • maxillary sinuses most commonly involved but can involve any sinus
      • can be bacterial (acute or chronic), or fungal
    • Risk factors
      • Kartagener disease
      • cystic fibrosis
      • Wegener's granulomatosis
      • smoking
        • impairs ciliary function
    • Acute sinusitis
      • < 1 month
      • Sudden onset
      • most commonly caused by
        • S. pneumoniae
        • H. influenzae
        • Moraxella cattarrhalis
      • usually precipitated by an acute viral respiratory tract infection which is thought to lead to reduced clearance of mucus
        • Inflammation can cause swelling of the mucosa of the nose or sinuses causing occlusion or obstruction of the sinus ostia
        • mucociliary transport is reduced
    • Chronic sinusitis
      • > 12 consecutive weeks
      • The role of bacteria is not well supported and the diagnosis criteria revolve around inflammation which predispose to ostia obstruction, further inflammation and infection
      • Associated bacteria include S. aureus, anaerobs and gram-negatives
      • Other risks include systemic disease, anatomic anomalies, mucociliary dusfunciton, trauma, noxious chemicals such as pollutants or smoke, medications.
    • Invasive Fungal Rhinosinusitis
      • Risks: immunosuppressed, diabetes, steroid use
      • most commonly due to aspergillus followed by mucormycosis
      • Suspect with fever, localization symptoms such as orbital swelling, changes in vision or significant facial pain or numbness, nasal bleeding. Endoscopy may show mucosal necrosis (indicative of mucormycosis).
      • Mucormycosis grows rapidly and can invade vasculature causing ischemia.
    • Noninvasive Fungal Rhinosinusitis
      • fungus ball in sinuses
      • Cuased by allergic or non-allergic reaction to fungus
  • Presentation
    • Symptoms
      • fever
      • facial pain
      • headache that can radiates to the upper teeth
      • purulent rhinorrhea
      • congestion
      • loss of smell
    • Physical exam
      • Classically, facial tenderness with palpation over the involved sinus
  • Evaluation/Diagnosis
    • Primarily a clinical diagnosis
    • Imaging
      • Plain radiographs have fallen out of favor due to poor sensitivity
      • CT
    • Nasal Endoscopy
    • Invasive fungal rhinosinusitis
      • Diagnosed with biopsy/histology. CT can be obtained to evaluate extent of disease.
    • Fungal Ball
      • appear dark, crumbly, possible sporulation
      • histology (tangled hyphae)
    • Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis
      • histology shows inflammatory cells, eosinophils and charcot-leyden crystals, hyphae
  • Treatment
    • Acute sinusitis
      • supportive therapy for 7 days
        • analgesia (tylenol), nasal saline irrigation, decongestants, adequate hydration
        • no antibiotics unless no clinical improvement during observation period or temperature >38.3 C
      • antibiotic for 10-14 days
        • amoxicillin-clavulanate is first line
    • Chronic sinusitis
      • Treatment in general is unclear. Some studies suggest improvement with antibiotics (such as macrolides) and topical or oral steroids.
      • surgery
        • if not responsive to antibiotic therapy to improve ventilation and drainage
        • maxillary sinusotomy, ethmoidectomy, or sphenoid sinusotomy
    • Invasive fungal rhinosinusitis
      • If possible, reversal of immunocompromised state
      • early aggressive medical (amphotericin B) and surgical debridement
    • Fungus ball
      • endoscopic removal
    • Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis
      • endoscopic removal of nasal polyps and inspissated muci
      • prednisone taper
  • Complications
    • osteomyellitis
    • mucocele
    • meningitis
    • epidural abcess
    • cerebral abscess
    • orbital/periorbital cellulitis
    • cavernous sinus thrombosis
  • Prognosis
    • Generally good in acute bacterial sinusitis
    • can be fatal in diabetic or immunocompromised patients with invasive fungal disease

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Questions (7)

(M2.ET.17.4828) A 25-year-old man with a history of schizophrenia stable on his current antipsychotic regimen presents with a seizure. His mother noted that her son complained of a headache, stuffy nose, facial pain, and feeling warm for the past ten days. The headache was exacerbated whenever he bent over. This morning, the mother brought him to the hospital after he fell from the top of the stairs and appeared to convulse his arms and legs. He takes quetiapine and a multivitamin. In the trauma bay, the patient appears to be breathing comfortably and follows the nurse's commands. His temperature is 100.9°F (38.3°C), blood pressure is 140/70 mmHg, pulse is 80/min, respirations are 15/min, and his oxygen saturation is 95% on room air. He complains of a headache over the top of his eyebrows. He has a few scrapes and bruises throughout his body. His left arm and leg are weaker than his right limbs. His cranial nerves are grossly intact bilaterally. Computed tomography of his head is shown in Figure A. Which of the following is the most likely cause of this patient's presentation?

QID: 109459

Budding yeast organisms with hyphae



Streptococcus species



Staphylococcus species



Bacteroides fragilis



Toxoplasma gondii cysts



M 5 D

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(M2.ET.17.4798) An 8-year-old female presents to her pediatrician with nasal congestion. Her mother reports that the patient has had nasal congestion and nighttime cough for almost two weeks. The patient’s 3-year-old brother had similar symptoms that began around the same time and have since resolved. The patient initially seemed to be improving, but four days ago she began developing worsening nasal discharge and fever to 102.6°F (39.2°C) at home. Her mother denies any change in appetite. The patient denies sore throat, ear pain, and headache. She is otherwise healthy. In the office, her temperature is 102.2°F (39.0°C), blood pressure is 96/71 mmHg, pulse is 128/min, and respirations are 18/min. On physical exam, the nasal turbinates are edematous and erythematous. She has a dry cough. Purulent mucous can be visualized dripping from the posterior nasopharynx. Her maxillary sinuses are tender to palpation.

Which of the following organisms is most likely to be causing this patient’s current condition?

QID: 109214




Moraxella catarrhalis



Pseudomonas aeruginosa



Staphylococcus aureus



Streptococcus pyogenes



M 6 D

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(M2.ET.17.4798) A 5-year-old male presents to the pediatrician with a 10-day history of cough that is worse at night. The patient has a history of mild intermittent asthma and has been using his albuterol inhaler without relief. He has also been complaining of headache and sore throat, and his mother has noticed worsening rhinorrhea. The patient’s past medical history is otherwise unremarkable, and he has no known drug allergies. In the office, his temperature is 101.8°F (38.8°C), blood pressure is 88/65 mmHg, pulse is 132/min, and respirations are 16/min. The patient has purulent mucus draining from the nares, and his face is tender to palpation over the maxillary sinuses. His pharynx is erythematous with symmetric swelling of the tonsils. On lung exam, he has moderate bilateral expiratory wheezing.

Which of the following is the best next step in management?

QID: 109215




Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid












M 7 D

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(M2.ET.17.4798) A 54-year-old male presents to the emergency department with nasal congestion and sore throat. He also endorses ten days of fatigue, rhinorrhea and cough, which he reports are getting worse. For the last four days, he has also had facial pain and thicker nasal drainage. The patient’s past medical history includes obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, and mild intermittent asthma. His home medications include metformin and an albuterol inhaler as needed. The patient has a 40 pack-year smoking history and drinks 6-12 beers per week. His temperature is 102.8°F (39.3°C), blood pressure is 145/96 mmHg, pulse is 105/min, and respirations are 16/min. On physical exam, he has poor dentition. Purulent mucus is draining from his nares, and his oropharynx is erythematous. His maxillary sinuses are tender to palpation.

Which one of the following is the most common risk factor for this condition?

QID: 109217




Diabetes mellitus



Poor dentition



Tobacco use



Viral infection



M 6 D

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(M2.ET.17.4694) A 30-year-old previously healthy male presents to your office with complaints of facial pressure and rhinorrhea for the past 3 weeks. The patient reports that several weeks prior, he had a “common cold” which resolved. However, he has since developed worsening facial pressure, especially over his cheeks and forehead. He reports over 1 week of green tinged rhinorrhea. His temperature is 100.1 deg F (37.8 deg C), blood pressure is 120/70 mmHg, pulse is 85/min, and respirations are 15/min. Nasal exam reveals edematous turbinates and purulent discharge. What is the most likely diagnosis?

QID: 107721

Acute viral rhinosinusitis



Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis



Subacute bacterial rhinosinusitis



Allergic rhinitis



Chronic rhinosinusitis



M 6 C

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(M3.ET.15.27) A 23-year-old man presents to his primary care physician with complaints of fatigue and cheek pain that started a day ago. He notes that he has nasal discharge that is yellow/green as well. Otherwise, he feels well and is generally healthy. The patient has a past medical history of type I diabetes mellitus and occasionally uses IV drugs. His temperature is 99.0°F (37.2°C), blood pressure is 120/84 mmHg, pulse is 70/min, respirations are 16/min, and oxygen saturation is 98% on room air. There is pain to palpation of the left and right maxilla. Pain is worsened when the patient bends over. Which of the following is the most appropriate initial step in management?

QID: 103050




Amphotericin and debridement



CT head



MRI head



Pseudoephedrine and follow up in 1 week



M 11 E

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(M2.ET.13.163) An 12-year-old girl presents to the emergency department for a cough, fever, and a runny nose. The patient is an immigrant from Lebanon and has never seen a doctor before. She has been given antibiotics for infections every few months for similar symptoms in the past. She has seasonal allergies and has always been sick since she was a child. Her temperature is 101°F (38.3°C), blood pressure is 100/64 mmHg, pulse is 89/min, respirations are 18/min, and oxygen saturation is 96% on room air. Physical exam is notable for bilateral coarse breath sounds. She appears well otherwise. A chest radiograph is performed as seen in Figure A. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

QID: 105561

Abnormal cilia motility



Adenosine deaminase deficiency



Chloride channel defect



Decrease in all immunoglobulin levels



Tyrosine kinase abnormality



M 6 E

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Evidence (6)
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