Sinusitis is a common disease in the horse. In human medicine it is described, that obstruction of the sinonasal communication plays a major role in the development of sinusitis. To get spatial sense of the equine specific communication ways between the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses, heads of 19 horses, aged 2 to 26 years, were analyzed using three-dimensional (3D) reformatted renderings of CT-datasets. Three-dimensional models were generated following manual and semi-automated segmentation. Before segmentation, the two-dimensional (2D) CT-images were verified against corresponding frozen sections of cadaveric heads.
Three-dimensional analysis of the paranasal sinuses showed the bilateral existence of seven sinus compartments: rostral maxillary sinus, ventral conchal sinus, caudal maxillary sinus, dorsal conchal sinus, frontal sinus, sphenopalatine sinus and middle conchal sinus. The maxillary septum divides these seven compartments into two sinus systems: a rostral paranasal sinus system composed of the rostral maxillary sinus and the ventral conchal sinus and a caudal paranasal sinus system which comprises all other sinuses. The generated 3D models revealed a typically configuration of the sinonasal communication ways. The sinonasal communication started within the middle nasal meatus at the nasomaxillary aperture (Apertura nasomaxillaris), which opens in a common sinonasal channel (Canalis sinunasalis communis). This common sinonasal channel ramifies into a rostral sinonasal channel (Canalis sinunasalis rostralis) and a caudo-lateral sinonasal channel (Canalis sinunasalis caudalis). The rostral sinonasal channel ventilated the rostral paranasal sinus system, the caudo-lateral sinonasal channel opened into the caudal paranasal sinus system. The rostral sinonasal channel was connected to the rostral paranasal sinuses in various ways. Whereas, the caudal channel showed less anatomical variations and was in all cases connected to the caudal maxillary sinus. Volumetric measurements of the sinonasal channels showed no statistically significant differences (P <0.05) between the right and left side of the head.
Under physiologic conditions both paranasal sinus systems are connected to the nasal cavity by equine specific sinonasal channels. To resolve sinus disease it is aimed to maintain or even reconstruct the normal anatomy of the sinonasal communication by surgical intervention. Therefore, the presented 3D analyses may provide a useful basis.