Maxillary sinus

The maxillary sinus (or antrum of Highmore) is a paired pyramid-shaped paranasal sinus within maxillary bone which drains via maxillary ostium into infundibulum, then through hiatus semilunaris into the middle meatus of the nose. It is the largest of the paranasal sinuses. It is present at birth and it develops until around the age of 14 years.

  • location: paired sinuses within the body of the maxilla
  • blood supply: small arteries from the facial, maxillary, infraorbital and greater palatine arteries
  • innervation: superior alveolar, greater palatine and infraorbital nerves

Described as a pyramid, the maxillary sinuses have a base on the lateral border of the nose, with the apex pointing towards the zygomatic process of the maxilla. The floor is formed by the alveolar section of the maxilla while the roof forms the floor of the orbit. 

Like the other paranasal air sinuses, these can vary in size. Large maxillary sinuses can extend to the alveolar process of the maxilla to the point where the roots of the molar teeth can project into the space. 

Unlike the other paranasal air sinuses, the opening of the sinus is found on its superior end. This ostium communicates with the nasal cavity via the posterior end of the semilunar hiatus.

Small arteries from the facial, maxillary, infraorbital and greater palatine arteries pierce the bony walls of the maxillary sinus. Venous drainage similarly follows the arterial supply; however, drain to the facial vein and pterygoid plexus.

Lymph from the maxillary sinus drains to the submandibular group of lymph nodes via the infraorbital foramen or the aforementioned communication with the nasal cavity. 

  • superior alveolar nerves
    • posterior superior alveolar nerves: dental branches pierce the bone to supply the sinus mucosa
    • middle superior alveolar nerves: supply the pre-molar teeth and overlying mucosa of the sinus
    • anterior superior alveolar nerves: supplies canine and incisors and anterior wall of the sinus
  • greater palatine nerve
    • minute branches from this nerve supply the medial wall of the sinus
  • infraorbital nerve
    • perforating branches supply the roof of the sinus
Head and neck anatomy
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Article information

rID: 25379
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Tags: stub, refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Antrum of Highmore

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: in magenta on annotated CT
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