Rare complications following ethmoidectomies: A report of eleven cases

Anthony J. Maniglia, J. Ryan Chandler, W. Jakrard Goodwin, John Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Intranasal ethnoidectomy is one of the most difficult operations to teach residents. An accurate knowledge of the regional topographic anatomy is of utmost importance. Friedman and Kerr reported complications of 1000 cases of consecutive intranasal ethmoidectomies performed at the Mayo Clinic from 1957 to 1972. The complication rate was 2.8%. Meningitis, cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea, loss of olfaction, and nasolacrimal duct obstruction were reported. No blindness, loss of ocular motility, excision of brain tissue or intracranial vessel damage occurred in their series. We are reporting a series of 8 cases of very rare complications following intranasal ethmoidectomies: Optic nerve damage resulting in total blindness (3 cases). Loss of ocular motility (2 cases). Cerebrospinal fluid leak resulting in 8 episodes of pseudomonas meningitis and epidural abscess (1 case). Cavernous sinus - internal carotid artery fistula (1 case). Anterior cranial fossa brain damage resulting in death (1 case). These cases, which were either referred to us or came up for our review, are described in detail. A search of the world literature demonstrates a lack of emphasis on such complications. The pitfalls of intranasal ethmoidectomy are considered and ways to avoid such dreadful complications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1244
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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