Sinus - types (jaw, paranasal sinuses, etc)

Sinus - types (jaw, paranasal sinuses, etc)

Kinga Dziwisz (MPharm)

We can distinguish five kinds of sinuses: paranasal, jaw, frontal, sphenoidal and ethmoid. They are located within the face in different areas. Are all of them equally important?

What are sinuses?
The sinuses are the so-called pneumatic spaces (filled with compressed air) located in the bony part of the face.

What is the function of sinuses?
Primarily, the sinuses perform a respiratory function in that they heat and humidify inhaled air, as well as equalise pressure created while breathing. The other sinus function is protecting the neurocranium from injuries whilst also reducing the weight of the bony part of the face. Moreover, they perform an olfactory, heat-insulating and phonetic function, by protecting the inner ear from cranial conduction of one’s own voice.

Paranasal sinuses
This is the broadest term, as it includes all the above mentioned sinuses. Thus, it can be regarded as a superior name for all the others.

The paranasal sinuses can be described as the mucous membrane indentations, “grown” into the surrounding bones from a nasal cavity’s side. They are characterised by their connection to the nasal cavity. Their development starts in the foetal period (first, the jaw sinuses are developed), whereas their final development stage takes place between the age of 10 and 20.

Jaw sinuses
The shape of a jaw sinus can be compared to a trihedral pyramid. The jaw sinuses are located at both sides of the jaw, reaching the areas under the eye sockets and next to the nose.

Frontal sinuses
They can be found above the eye sockets and take different shapes; sometimes they can exist individually. These sinuses go through the nasal-frontal tract to the inner nose structures, thanks to them, any inflammatory discharge, which accumulates in the sinuses, can flow freely. It is the frontal sinuses that are the most common cause of sinus pain.

Sphenoid sinuses
The sphenoid sinuses are located within the body of sphenoidal bone. The sphenoidal bone touches the frontal bone. Sphenoid sinus inflammation can be very dangerous as it is very close to the brain.

Ethmoid sinuses, ethmoid cells
The ethmoid cells are the smallest paranasal sinuses. They consist of tiny osteocytic lacunas, additionally divided by bone lamellas. The ethmoid cells are the base for the sieve bone.
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