Computer tomography (CT) imaging is an important tool in aiding with the diagnosis and treatment of sinus diseases. The CT scan is used in conjunction with a ENT examination and nasal / sinus endoscopy in the office to evaluate naso-sinus structure, inflammation, and fluids in the sinuses.
The best image of the sinuses can be obtained with a CT scan. CT scans allow the physician to examine the sinuses in detailed cross-sections and detect inflammatory diseases, evaluate fluid-filled sinuses or thickened sinus membranes, and diagnose sinusitis. Patients with severe allergic disease can also have structural blockages of the sinuses exacerbating their symptoms. The extent of nasal polyps can also be determined with a CT scan. Any bony defects from a nasal tumor or herniation of orbital (eye) contents can be mapped out. A defect at the skull base from tumor, brain herniation, or a fracture from trauma can also be detected. Imaging is often helpful to evaluate patients with unexplained loss of the sense of smell or unexplained headache or facial pressure to confirm or rule out the role of sinus disease in these processes.
Physicians can also use CT scans to plan for surgery by defining anatomy or giving further information about tumors of the nasal cavity and sinuses. The interior of the sinuses, which often cannot be seen on endoscopy unless the patient has had prior surgery, can be viewed on the CT scan images. If desired, the sinuses can be imaged in more than one angle to obtain images from above, side or front views. There are also office-based and operating room-based computers that allow the reconstruction of additional planar views and even 3-D reconstructions that may allow for more detail and better surgical planning. These types of scans are often called navigational scans. They allow the CT scan images to be displayed during surgery as a system which can track the location of the surgical tools inside the nose when overlaid upon the x-ray images. These types of scans can be very useful for more difficult cases or in cases where prior surgery and scar tissue or disease may have changed the usual landmarks inside the nose.
Unlike getting an MRI, patients rarely feel claustrophobic because the scanner has no enclosures. The scan is painless and takes less than 10 minutes. There are now miniature-CT scanners that are less intimidating in appearance and only require a few minutes to obtain a full sinus examination.
Nasal, sinus or ear problems can be very discomforting and frustrating, leading to sinus pressure and pain, difficulty in nasal breathing and ear fullness with pain. It can affect your daily activities, sleep, and your quality of life. Call our office for an appointment.