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Sinusitis - Exams and Tests

Diagnosis of sinusitis is usually based on your medical history and physical exam. A detailed history of the problem often can be of more value to the diagnosis than a physical exam. If the symptoms and physical findings are typical of sinusitis, further testing is usually not needed.

Additional tests may be done if:

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  • The diagnosis is not clear.
  • Antibiotic treatment has failed to clear up the problem.
  • Complications (such as a bone infection) are suspected.
  • Surgery is being considered.

Imaging tests may be used when symptoms of sinusitis persist or recur despite treatment, or to look for tumors or other growths when there is bleeding or bloody discharge from the nose. They include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan of the head and face, which provides a detailed image of sinus structures. A CT scan may help evaluate severe or chronic sinusitis, identify suspected complications of sinusitis, or rule out other conditions. It is not used to diagnose acute sinusitis.
  • Sinus X-ray, which may be done to confirm a suspected case of sinusitis. An X-ray produces a picture of dense tissues inside the body. But a CT scan provides better information.

Less often, other tests may be done by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist (also called an otolaryngologist) or by an allergist. These tests may include:

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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