Ostiomeatal complex

Dr Tim Luijkx and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The ostiomeatal complex (or unit), sometimes less correctly spelled as osteomeatal complex, is a common channel that links the frontal sinus, anterior and middle ethmoid sinuses and the maxillary sinus to the middle meatus that allows air flow and mucociliary drainage. 

Gross anatomy

The ostiometal complex is composed of five structures:

  • maxillary ostium: drainage channel of the maxillary sinus
  • infundibilum: common channel that drains the ostia of the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses to the hiatus semilunaris
  • ethmoidal bulla: usually a single air cell that projects inferomedially over the hiatus semilunaris
  • uncinate process: hook-like process that arises from the posteromedial aspect of the nasolacrimal duct and forms the anterior boundary of the hiatus semilunaris
  • hiatus semilunaris: final drainage passage; a region between the ethmoid bulla superiorly and free-edge of the uncinate process

Variant antatomy

There are a wide range of anatomical variants that affect the many structures that compose the ostiomeatal complex and are not pathological in themselves but their presence can result in disease. See main article, ostiometal narrowing due to nasal anatomical variation, for the complete list. 

Head and neck anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 27335
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Ostiomeatal unit
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    Normal ostiomeata...
    Figure 1
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