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What Is a Maxillary Sinus Cyst?

A saline nasal rinse can be used to relieve the symptoms of a sinus cyst.
An MRI scanner can be used to detect a maxillary sinus cyst.
A maxillary sinus cyst can cause pain in an eye or even tooth pain.
A warm washcloth compress can help open the nasal passage and decrease swelling.
Headaches are a symptom of a maxillary sinus cyst.
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  • Originally Written By: Carey Reeve
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2014
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A maxillary sinus cyst is an abnormal tissue growth located in either of the cavities located behind the cheekbones on either side of the nose. These cavities are called sinuses, and they are located in the maxilla, or upper jaw. Cysts are closed, pocket-like formations of tissue and are filled with liquid, air or semi-solid material. Most cysts are completely harmless and require treatment only if they grow large enough that they interfere with the functions of surrounding tissues.

Sinuses

The maxillary sinuses are one of three types of sinuses that are associated with — and open into — the nasal passages. The cavities behind the nose and eyes are the ethmoid sinuses. Those behind the forehead area are the bilateral sinuses.

Cysts

Cysts can form anywhere on the body and can be caused by infections, inflammatory reactions, blockage of the normal movement of fluid or genetic disorders. Cysts that are on or near the surface of the skin or in soft tissue such as the breast might be noticed by the patient first. Those that lie deeper inside the body, such as those in the maxillary sinuses, might not be found until they cause enough irritation that diagnostic testing must be done.

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Common Symptoms

Symptoms such as headaches; facial pain, including in a tooth or eye; chronic sinus infection; pressure; and swelling can be experienced if a maxillary sinus cyst grows too large or lies in a sensitive area. These cysts can form near the opening of an ostium, a tube that allows the sinus to drain, and can close off the opening. This causes increased facial pain and swelling because of the prevention of normal drainage.

Infection

If an infection isn’t already present, it’s highly likely that a blockage like this will lead to one quickly. Regardless of the size or location, it’s possible that a cyst will become infected and cause additional symptoms or an increase in severity of existing symptoms such as swelling, pain and fever. Infection from badly decayed or abscessed teeth can spread into the area, especially after oral surgery, because of the location of the maxillary sinuses.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a maxillary sinus cyst, a computed axial tomography (CAT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam is performed. Other testing, such as an electronystagmogram (ENG), which measures eye movement, might be necessary to rule out other causes of the patient's symptoms. In some cases, a doctor might perform an endoscopy, in which a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on one end is used to examine the sinuses.

Surgery

Medical treatments used when a maxillary sinus cyst becomes infected or large enough to cause significant symptoms consist mainly of courses of antibiotics and surgery. Traditionally, open sinus surgery was the only option, bringing the potential for scarring and a long recovery time. The effort to avoid risks such as these has caused endoscopic sinus surgery to grow in popularity. In endoscopic surgery, the entire procedure is done by viewing the image sent from a tiny camera that is inserted through the nostril of the patient. After the cysts is surgically removed, a biopsy might be performed to ensure that it was not cancerous.

Prevention

There is no fully effective home treatment after a maxillary sinus cyst has formed, but there are several preventative treatments that one might consider. Sinus congestion adds to the risk of developing a maxillary sinus cyst, so any action that relieves congestion and promotes quick drainage will help prevent them. A store-bought or homemade saline solution rinse will clean the sinus cavities and reduce swelling in the nasal passages as well as gently disinfect them. The saline can be dropped into the nose with the head tilted back, or a cruet or small pitcher can be used to pour the solution into one nostril while allowing it to drain out of the other nostril.

The pouring method cleans more thoroughly, but many people are bothered by the thought of water completely filling their nasal passages. If the solution is warmed to a comfortable bath water temperature before use and the patient breathes only through his or her mouth, there usually is very little discomfort. Humidifiers help keep mucus thin so that it drains properly, and warm washcloths applied to the face will open the smaller nasal passages and blood vessels, which will increase drainage and decrease swelling.

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Discuss this Article

anon355361
Post 14

I had the nasal maxilla cyst surgery today. However, the cyst was not removed due to the problem making an opening to the cavity. The doctor said that I have very thick bone inside as well as it was impossible with the wide bone area above my upper teeth which caused the cavity size very irregular like my left.

I got some foreign implants in my body recognized by ultrasound and I'm one of the targeted individuals who got gang stalking and electronic harassment. Can anyone tell me what caused such irregular nasal cavity or the cyst? It could be some UFO technology like the RFID tags secretly implanted in the UFO abductees.

anon349321
Post 13

I have recently had surgery for a maxillary cyst. I never knew I had anything wrong until the cyst liquid broke into my alveolar last Christmas. I thought it was something like a blister and my dentist had no clue after taking x rays. An oral surgeon did a panorex but was not sure what she was looking at. I finally went to a maxillofacial surgeon, who knew what it was right away.

Throughout its progress, I never had any pressure, discomfort or pain other than the appearance of the "blister" in my alveolar. Although I have always had active sinus drainage, usually needing to blow my nose every morning upon waking, the only other possible symptom I can describe is the loss of my sense of taste in the last two years, although that may not have any bearing on anything.

I am now sporting a very uncomfortable drain tube in my mouth in the hopes that the cyst will invert, reducing the need for further surgery, and possibly saving three teeth.

anon326042
Post 12

I just had two sinus surgeries. The first time my cyst was never removed. I had a right maxillary sinus mucus retention cyst. This is horrible. It caused so many symptoms and I had to fight to get my doctors to believe that these horrible chronic infections and bronchitis and allergic asthma and rhinitis were being caused by that mucus retention cyst.

I had dizziness, discomfort, many, many symptoms and it got worse. My second doctor, who completed the second surgery, said that it was infected when he opened it. After two surgeries I am still dealing with the infections. Take care of it. Don't let them tell you it's something else.

anon324126
Post 11

I've had terrible facial pain for about two years. My ENT doctor noted inflammatory sinus disease with some sort of cyst but he didn't seem too concerned about. So far they think it's because of TMJ. I haven't found anything that helps with the pain. After all this I can't help but wonder if that tiny cyst can be causing a lot of my pain.

anon295704
Post 10

During the fall and winter seasons, my symptoms seem to get worse. I have a 3 cm maxillary sinus cyst on my right side and it gives me very bad headaches on my right side, off and on. I am on a waiting list to get surgery to remove my cyst, but they said it will take at least six months to two years. It stinks not having insurance.

anon290408
Post 9

I had a maxillary cyst enucleation Tuesday of last week. My doctor said there was a small hole in my sinus; it is about 1 mm he said. Will this hole heal on its own and if not what complications will result from it?

anon289823
Post 8

I have a maxillary cyst and am desperately trying to get rid of it homeopathically. I started a blog to document my progress. Hopefully I will give some useful tips and we can all get rid of this stuff naturally. It's a horrible feeling, eh? I watched a video for the surgery and it is not for me.

anon262543
Post 7

My two year old boy recently had a CT scan that revealed maxillary sinusitis after a couple of episodes of seizures that came out of the blue. Could these be related?

anon257420
Post 6

Is a retention cyst in the maxillary sinus the same as a maxillary sinus cyst? I had an MRI in 2009 that confirmed a retention cyst in left ms but it wasn't giving me any trouble.

Flash forward to 2012 and I am looking at sinus balloon surgery for chronic sinusitis. My ENT is not sure of the cause. I have two pea sized lumps by my left cheekbone. ne can be moved around, but the other appears fixed on cheekbone. The ENT said it was probably a lymph node from my sinuses.

He said couldn't feel anything on my cheekbone but now my husband and I can both clearly feel a round "bump" that feels like cheekbone itself. Should I be concerned?

anon250594
Post 5

@Planch: It could well be a cyst, and you should have a head CT scan to find out.

anon142445
Post 4

I have a maxillary sinus cyst found through an MRI for a previous seizure. It's been about 12 years since they found the cyst.

My question is: can the cyst become so large that it causes dizziness? The cyst is on my right side and lately when I try to sleep on my right side or lie on my right side, I become dizzy and have to get up immediately. The dizziness causes me to become nauseated. The sensation does go away and returns some weeks later. --melissa O.

yournamehere
Post 3

How would a doctor tell the difference between, say, the symptoms of sinus cancer and the symptoms of a maxillary sinus cyst.

Don't the two present in pretty similar ways? I mean, it's not like a cyst on your arm where you can tell immediately that it's a cyst and not a tumor; the sinuses are hard to see into anyway, and I can't imagine that having an extra blockage of any kind would make it any easier.

So how do they diagnose sinus cancer, and how do they know that it's different from a maxillary sinus cyst? I would be really interested to learn more about this topic.

Thanks!

pharmchick78
Post 2

@planch -- Unfortunately, it can be hard to diagnose a maxillary cyst without an MRI -- they're kind of like sinus tumors, without getting up in there to look it can be hard to tell what's going on.

The only real symptoms of a retention cyst in the maxillary sinus are those mentioned in the article -- pain, chronic sinus infections, facial swelling, and pressure. Although you could have a maxillary cyst, especially since you do experience such frequent sinus pain and infections, it's equally likely that you've just got sinus polyps. Sinus diagnostics are, like I said, very difficult without actually seeing what's going on, so if you're very concerned, then I would suggest you ask your doctor about it.

Again, although you may have a maxillary sinus mucus retention cyst, there's simply no way for anyone to know without actually seeing what's going on up in there.

Best of luck.

Planch
Post 1

Very interesting -- it makes me wonder if I've got a cyst in my maxillary sinus though. I've always been really prone to sinus infections; I tend to get one probably twice a year, and they are usually so bad that I have to go on a course of antibiotics before they spread to my Eustachian tubes and throat.

Do you think that my maxillary sinusitis could possibly be related to a maxillary cyst? What are some of the maxillary sinus cyst symptoms? And if I do have one, then would a maxillary sinus cyst removal procedure stop me from having all these terrible sinus infections?

Because I would be willing to undergo about anything if I knew I could get them to stop -- what do you think?

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