What are the common physical findings of acute sinusitis (sinus infection)?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Fever is seen in fewer than 2% of individuals with sinusitis. Sinus transillumination and palpation are of little predictive value. Facial tenderness to palpation is present. Complete opacification of maxillary or frontal sinuses may be seen on transillumination; partial opacification is a nonspecific finding, and it is not as reliable. A basic evaluation of ocular and neurological function is also necessary to rule out potential complications.

The following may be noted:

  • Purulent nasal secretions

  • Purulent posterior pharyngeal secretions

  • Mucosal erythema

  • Periorbital edema

  • Tenderness overlying sinuses

  • Air-fluid levels on transillumination of the sinuses (60% reproducibility rate for assessing maxillary sinus disease)

  • Facial erythema

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