A 10-Year Review of Frontal Sinus Fractures Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Frontal sinus cranialization is commonly indicated for posterior table fractures with significant comminution, displacement, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks. This study assessed the clinical outcomes of conservative management. METHODS: A 10-year retrospective review of all frontal sinus fractures treated at a level 1 trauma center was performed using medical records and radiographic images. RESULTS: A total of 875 patients with frontal sinus fractures were identified, and 68 had posterior table involvement. Nine died within the first 48 hours from other injuries. The remaining 59 patients constituted the study population. Average follow-up approached 1 year (342 days). The more common mechanisms of injury were blunt interpersonal violence (29 percent) and motor vehicle accidents (27 percent). Concurrent central nervous system injury was common (73 percent), and the average Glasgow Coma Scale score was 12.7. Posterior wall fracture pattern was nondisplaced and noncomminuted in 33 patients (54 percent) and comminuted and/or displaced in 27 (46 percent). Cerebrospinal fluid leak was recorded in 11 patients (19 percent). Conservative management was the more common strategy (78 percent), followed by open reduction and internal fixation with sinus preservation (12 percent), obliteration (8 percent), and cranialization (2 percent). Of the 27 patients with comminuted and/or displaced fractures, 16 (59 percent) underwent conservative management, and 11 (41 percent) underwent surgical management, but only one patient (2 percent) underwent cranialization. There was no incidence of intracranial infection, except for one patient who died from encephalitis secondary to a gunshot wound to the head. CONCLUSION: The vast majority of frontal sinus fractures involving the posterior table, including those with comminution, displacement, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks, can be safely managed without cranialization. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, IV.


  • Choi, Matthew
  • Li, Yiping
  • Shapiro, Scott A
  • Havlik, Robert J
  • Flores, Roberto L

publication date

  • August 2012