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November 1997

A New Classification and Diagnostic Criteria for Invasive Fungal Sinusitis

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Allergy and Immunology, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics (Drs deShazo and Soto-Aguilar), Pathology (Drs O'Brien, Chapin, and Gardner), and Surgery (Dr Swain), University of South Alabama, Mobile.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(11):1181-1188. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900110031005

Objective:  To develop criteria for the diagnosis of invasive fungal sinusitis.

Design:  Review of the literature on invasive fungal sinusitis in the context of a population of 30 patients with fungal sinusitis and 24 patients with chronic bacterial sinusitis.

Setting:  Tertiary care medical center.

Results:  Our review revealed no consensus in the literature on the classification of the syndromes of invasive fungal sinusitis and no criteria for their diagnosis. Moreover, the existing syndromes of invasive fungal sinusitis lacked specificity and one of the more commonly cited syndromes, primary aspergillosis of the paranasal sinuses, is a granulomatous disease that occurs rarely outside Africa. Two of our 30 patients with fungal sinusitis had a previously unrecognized form of invasive disease. Both were middle-aged adults with wellcontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus, apical orbital syndrome, and a similar course: proptosis resulting from fungal expansion out of an ethmoid sinus, a protracted illness of 6 months or longer, visual changes, late neurological symptoms reflecting cavernous sinus invasion, and death. The syndrome in these 2 patients is distinct from the syndrome of fulminant invasive fungal sinusitis, (eg, mucormycosis) with nasal eschar, intracerebral fungal dissemination by vascular invasion, and death in days, and the granulomatous form.

Conclusions:  We conclude that there are 3 forms of invasive fungal sinusitis and propose that they be termed (1) granulomatous, (2) acute fulminant, and (3) chronic invasive. The latter category reflects the syndrome seen in our 2 patients. Furthermore, the following 2 diagnostic criteria for invasive fungal sinusitis are proposed: (1) sinusitis confirmed by radiological imaging and (2) histopathological evidence of hyphal forms within sinus mucosa, submucosa, blood vessels, or bone. The specificity of hyphae within sinus mucosa for tissue invasion was supported by the absence of stainable hyphae in the mucosa of patients with chronic bacterial sinusitis or in the mucosa of our described patients with allergic fungal sinusitis and mycetoma.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:1181-1188