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Barosinusitis: Comprehensive review and proposed new classification system

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Background:

Barosinusitis, or sinus barotrauma, may arise from changes in ambient pressure that are not compensated by force equalization mechanisms within the paranasal sinuses. Barosinusitis is most commonly seen with barometric changes during flight or diving. Understanding and better classifying the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and management of barosinusitis are essential to improve patient care.

Objectives:

To perform a comprehensive review of the available literature regarding sinus barotrauma.

Methods:

A comprehensive literature search that used the terms “barosinusitis,” “sinus barotrauma,” and “aerosinusitis” was conducted, and all identified titles were reviewed for relevance to the upper airway and paranasal sinuses. All case reports, series, and review articles that were identified from this search were included. Selected cases of sinus barotrauma from our institution were included to illustrate classic signs and symptoms.

Results:

Fifty-one articles were identified as specifically relevant to, or referencing, barosinusitis and were incorporated into this review. The majority of articles focused on barosinusitis in the context of a single specific etiology rather than independent of etiology. From analysis of all the publications combined with clinical experience, we proposed that barosinusitis seemed to fall within three distinct subtypes: (1) acute, isolated barosinusitis; (2) recurrent acute barosinusitis; and (3) chronic barosinusitis. We introduced this terminology and suggested independent treatment recommendations for each subtype.

Conclusion:

Barosinusitis is a common but potentially overlooked condition that is primed by shifts in the ambient pressure within the paranasal sinuses. The pathophysiology of barosinusitis has disparate causes, which likely contribute to its misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis. Available literature compelled our proposed modifications to existing classification schemes, which may allow for improved awareness and management strategies for barosinusitis.
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Keywords: Barosinusitis; aerosinusitis; diving; flight sinusitis; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; recurrent sinusitis; sinus barotrauma; sinus headache; sinus pressure; vacuum sinusitis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 2: Division of Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia 3: Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Publication date: 01 October 2017

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