Factors in the pathogenesis of tumors of the sphenoid and maxillary sinuses: A comparative study

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Objectives/Hypothesis: To explain the processes that lead to the development of tumors in the maxillary and sphenoid sinuses. Study Design: A 32-year review of the world's literature on neoplasms of these two sinuses and a randomized case-controlled study comparing the normal mucosal architecture of the maxillary to the sphenoid sinus. Methods: Analysis of a 32-year world literature review reporting series of cases of maxillary and sphenoid sinus tumors. Tumors were classified by histological type and separated into subgroups if an individual incidence rate was reported. Histomorphometry of normal maxillary and sphenoid sinus mucosa was performed in 14 randomly selected patients (10 sphenoid and 4 maxillary specimens). Specimens were fixed in 10% formalin, embedded in paraffin, and stained with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) and hematoxylin. Histomorphometric analysis was performed with a Zeiss Axioscope light microscope (Carl Zeiss Inc., Thornwood, NY) mounted with a Hamamatsu (Hamamatsu Photonics, Tokyo, Japan) color-chilled 3 charge coupled device digital camera. The images were captured on a 17-inch Sony (Sony Corp., Tokyo, Japan) multiscan monitor and analyzed with a Samba 4000 Image Analysis Program (Samba Corp., Los Angeles, CA). Five randora areas were selected from strips of epithelium removed from each sinus, and goblet and basal cell measurements were made at magnifications x100 and x400. Results: The literature review revealed that the number and variety of tumors in the maxillary sinus are much greater than those in the sphenoid. The incidence of metastatic lesions to each sinus is approximately equal. No recognized pattern of spread from any particular organ system could be determined. On histomorphometric study there were no statistically significant differences between the sinuses in the concentration of goblet cells, basal cells, or seromucinous glands. Conclusions: Factors invalved in the pathogenesis of tumors of the maxillary and sphenoid sinuses include differences in nasal physiology, embryology, morphology, and topography. There are no significant histological differences in the epithelium and submucous glands between the two sinuses to explain the dissimilar formation of neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
Issue number10 II
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Basal cells
  • Comparative study
  • Goblet cells
  • Histomorpholgy
  • Paranasal sinus neoplasms or disease


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