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History of Rhino logy: Anatomy of the paranasal sinuses

Volume: 27 - Issue: 3

Firstpage: 197 - Lastpage: 210

H. Stammberger

The knowledge of the presence of the paranasal sinuses dates back to early mankind
as well as attempts to treat their diseases. Apart from the sensory function of smell,
however, little has been known about the function and especially the anatomy of the
system till the end of the last century. Until the late middle ages sometimes obscure
functions were attributed to the sinuses, like holding the "grease"for the movement of
the eyeballs, or allowing the brain to "drain its bad spirits" to the outer world, bringing
about names like "la cloaca del cerebro" by Sansovino in the 16th century. The old
French expression of "rhume de cerveau" demonstrates these ideas having passed on
into modern man's vocabulary. During the 17th and 18th century discussion was
mainly about the function or purpose of the sinuses, and the rare anatomical studies
were meant to support or prove one or the other "philosophies" (Figure 1).
Today's knowledge of the anatomy to a great deal goes back to the basic work of Emil
Zuckerkandl of Austria, who starting from the 1870s described in subtile studies the
anatomical and development details of the nose and the sinuses, opening an entire
new field for scientific and surgical approach to the area. The decades around the turn
of the century boost with studies on sectional and surgical anatomy, creating the
speciality of rhinology and leading into our modern concepts of diagnosis and
therapy of nasal and paranasal sinus diseases. Names like Griinwald, Onodi, Hajek
and many others are closely linked with this creative period.
Radiology, especially the development of conventional and computed tomography
during the last two decades helped to "rediscover" the fascinating details and
complex connections of the paranasal sinus system. Together with the development
of the operating microscope and the endoscope this helped to open new waysforfunctional
approaches and less radical microsurgery.

H. Stammberger - History of Rhino logy: Anatomy of the paranasal sinuses
Rhinology 27-3: 197-210, 1989