Sinus x-rayParanasal sinus radiography; X-ray - sinuses
A sinus x-ray is an imaging test to look at the sinuses. These are the air-filled spaces in the front of the skull.
X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. An x-ray machine sends individual x-ray particles through the body. The im...
How the Test is Performed
A sinus x-ray is taken in a hospital radiology department. Or the x-ray may be taken in the health care provider's office. You are asked to sit in a chair so that any fluid in the sinuses can be seen in the x-ray images. The technologist may place your head in different positions as the images are taken.
How to Prepare for the Test
Tell the doctor or x-ray technologist if you are or think you are pregnant. You will be asked to remove all jewelry. You may be asked to change into a gown.
How the Test will Feel
There is little or no discomfort with a sinus x-ray.
Why the Test is Performed
The sinuses are located behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes. When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and other germs can grow. This can lead to an infection and inflammation of the sinuses called sinusitis.
Sinusitis is present when the tissue lining the sinuses become swollen or inflamed. It occurs as the result of an inflammatory reaction or an infect...
A sinus x-ray is ordered when you have any of the following:
- Symptoms of sinusitis
- Other sinus disorders, such as a deviated septum (crooked or bent septum, the structure that separates the nostrils)
- Symptoms of another infection of that area of the head
These days, a sinus x-ray is not often ordered. This is because a CT scan of the sinuses shows more detail.
CT scan of the sinuses
A computed tomography (CT) scan of the sinus is an imaging test that uses x-rays to make detailed pictures of the air-filled spaces inside the face (...
What Abnormal Results Mean
The x-ray may detect an infection, blockages, bleeding or tumors.
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated so that the lowest amount of radiation is used to produce the image.
Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.
Beale T, Brown J, Rout J. ENT, neck, and dental radiology. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 67.
Mettler FA. Head and soft tissues of face and neck. In: Mettler FA, ed. Essentials of Radiology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019: chap 2.
Sinuses - illustration
The sinuses are hollow cavities within the facial bones. Sinuses are not fully developed until after age 12. When people speak of sinus infections, they are most frequently referring to the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.
Review Date: 8/12/2019
Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.