Relationship of optic neuritis to disease of the paranasal sinuses

Rothstein Jack, Robert H. Maisel, Norman T. Berlinger, Jonathan D. Wirtschafter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The relationship of paranasal sinusitis to optic neuritis remains an intriguing curiosity to both the otolaryngologist nnd the ophthalmologist. The literature is replete with anecdotal case reports of patients whose sinusitis appears to have caused optic neuritis. There is much speculation about the pathophysiological mechanisms which relate these two distinct disease entities. Five new cases arc described which highlight distinct pathophysiologic routes through which paranasal sinus disease has caused optic neuritis. These include compressive optic neuropathy secondary to mucoceles and/or pyoccles; direct extension of sinus infection to the optic nerve from suppurative paranasal sinusitis; and, in one case, from osteomyelitis of the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses. The usefulness of computerized axial tomography of the orbits and paranasal sinuses to evaluate optic neuritis and to elucidate in detail the pathophysiology of its relationship to disease of the paranasal sinuses is emphasized.Currently, optic neuritis is felt to be a rare complication of paranasal sinusitis. Paranasal sinus surgery is advocated in those cases where sinus suppuration is suspected, or when a compressive optic neuropathy is caused by a sinus mucocele or pyoccle. Since in most cases, however, optic neuritis is self-limited, it is difficult to evaluate the results of surgery in circumstances other than those mentioned already. Continued careful evaluation, management, nnd documentation of this group of patients is necessary to help better define the relationship between these two disease entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1501-1508
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1984


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