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Maxillary sinus

Maxillary sinus
Outline of bones of face, showing position of air sinuses.
Latin sinus maxillaris
Gray's subject #223 999
Artery infraorbital artery, posterior superior alveolar artery
Nerve posterior superior alveolar nerve, medial superior alveolar nerve, anterior superior alveolar nerve, and infraorbital nerve
MeSH Maxillary+Sinus

The maxillary sinus (or Antrum of Highmore) is the largest of the paranasal sinuses, and is pyramidal in shape.


General characteristics

Found in the body of the maxilla, this sinus has three recesses: an alveolar recess pointed inferiorly, bounded by the alveolar process of the maxilla; a zygomatic recess pointed laterally, bounded by the zygomatic bone; and an infraorbital recess pointed superiorly, bounded by the inferior orbital surface of the maxilla. The medial wall is composed primarily of cartilage. The ostia for drainage is located high on the medial wall and opens into the semilunar hiatus of the lateral nasal cavity; because of the position of the ostia, gravity cannot drain the maxillary sinus contents when the head is erect. The sinus is lined with mucoperiosteum, with cilia that beat toward the ostia. The size of the sinuses varies in different skulls, and even on the two sides of the same skull.

The infraorbital canal usually projects into the cavity as a well-marked ridge extending from the roof to the anterior wall; additional ridges are sometimes seen in the posterior wall of the cavity and are caused by the alveolar canals.

Nasal wall/base

Its nasal wall, or base, presents, in the disarticulated bone, a large, irregular aperture, communicating with the nasal cavity.

In the articulated skull this aperture is much reduced in size by the following bones:

  • the uncinate process of the ethmoid above,
  • the ethmoidal process of the inferior nasal concha below,
  • the vertical part of the palatine behind,
  • and a small part of the lacrimal above and in front.

The sinus communicates through an opening into the semilunar hiatus on the lateral nasal wall.

Posterior wall

On the posterior wall are the alveolar canals, transmitting the posterior superior alveolar vessels and nerves to the molar teeth.


The floor is formed by the alveolar process of the maxilla, and, if the sinus is of an average size, is on a level with the floor of the nose; if the sinus is large it reaches below this level.

Projecting into the floor of the antrum are several conical processes, corresponding to the roots of the first and second molar teeth; in some cases the floor is perforated by the fangs of the teeth.


Maxillary sinusitis is inflammation of the maxillary sinuses.

Additional images

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Maxillary_sinus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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