How Can My Frontal Sinus Be Reconstructed After Brow Bone Reduction?

Q: Dr. Eppley, years ago I had a brow-bone reduction surgery for facial feminization. Unfortunately, the surgeon I chose tried some novel procedure that ended up leaving me with a missing anterior sinus wall and bone chips lodged in my frontal sinus. Another surgeon, an ENT, then obliterated my frontal sinus with hydroxyapatite. This fixed the air leaks and replaced the missing bone, but left obvious irregularities in my forehead. I recently had a CT scan done and discovered that he also failed to completely obliterate the sinus; there is still a cavity on the left side. I came across your page while doing research and discovered that you had a lot of experience in forehead work as well as craniofacial experience, and I was wondering if this was something you think you could fix. I’m hoping to have the last of the sinus obliterated with hydroxyapatite or similar and to have the defects in my frontal bone filled. 

A: In doing brow bone reduction surgery, removing the anterior table of the frontal sinus and putting it back as morselized bone chips is not going to be a successful strategy. (as you have discovered) This will leave one with significant indentations and irregularities over the brow bones. Repairing this problem with frontal sinus obliteration by mucosal lining removal, obliterating the frontal sinus ducts with bone grafts and then filling it with hydroxyapatite cement up to the level of the desired brow bone shape is the correct treatment. However if one fails to get out all the lining or does not obliterate the frontonasal ducts, a residual frontal sinus cavity will remains which could be a source of infection.

I am going to assume that this residual sinus cavity is located near the frontonasal ducts underneath the hydroxyapatite cement. If this asymptomatic and the cavity is clear, then I would just fill in the outer brow bone contour and leave it alone. However, if it is a source of pain or frontal sinus infections, then it should be removed and obliterated with cement along with the brow bone/forehead contouring.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana