Facial plast Surg 2005; 21(3): 199-206
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-922860
Copyright © 2005 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Frontal Sinus Fractures: Management Guidelines

Stephen E. Metzinger1 , Aldo B. Guerra1 , Roberto Eloy Garcia1
  • 1Aesthetic Surgical Associates, Metairie, Louisiana
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
23 November 2005 (online)


Management of frontal sinus fractures (FSF) has been the subject of great debate for more than six decades. Multiple treatment options and algorithms have been proposed by multiple specialties throughout the years; however, the optimal method of frontal sinus repair has yet to be elucidated. Because of the location of the frontal sinus and its proximity to numerous intracranial structures, inadequate treatment may lead to life-threatening intracranial infectious complications. Meningitis, encephalitis, and brain abscess are the most common intracranial complications. Other complications include persistent cerebrospinal leakage, mucopyoceles, frontal osteomyelitis, meningoencephalocele, and nonunion of the frontal bone. Orbital involvement may result in ophthalmoplegia, orbital abscess, diplopia, enophthalmos, proptosis, preseptal cellulitis, and partial or complete loss of vision. Morbidity and mortality are often dependent on the anatomic characteristics of the fracture, concomitant injuries, treatments rendered, age, gender, and mechanism of injury. Management of frontal sinus fractures is so controversial that the indications, timing, method of repair, and surveillance remain disputable among several surgical specialties. The most important tenet of frontal sinus fracture management remains the same: create a safe sinus. This is accomplished by following four basic principles: reestablish the frontal bony contour to its premorbid state, restore normal sinus mucosa with a patent drainage system if possible, eradicate the sinus cavity if the normal mucosa or drainage system cannot be reestablished, and create a permanent barrier between the intracranial and extracranial systems to prevent overwhelming infectious complications. By following these four basic principles, frontal sinus fracture management will be safe and effective as long as extended surveillance is part of the protocol.