What is the role of the physical exam in the diagnosis of acute sinusitis?

Updated: Apr 22, 2020
  • Author: Ted L Tewfik, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Anterior rhinoscopic examination, with or without a topical decongestant, is important to assess the status of the nasal mucosa and the presence and color of nasal discharge. Predisposing anatomical variations can also be noted during anterior rhinoscopy. Sinus transillumination and palpation are of little predictive value. A basic evaluation of ocular and neurological function is also necessary in order to rule out potential complications.

Endoscopic examination may reveal the origin of the purulent discharge from the middle meatus and may provide information about the nature of ostiomeatal obstruction. The use of endoscopy may also aid in the etiologic diagnosis of acute sinusitis by allowing the careful attainment of purulent secretions from the sinus ostia for culture.

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