Maxillary Sinus Transillumination – Physical Exam

Transillumination is the technique of sample illumination by transmission of light through the sample. In medicine transillumination generally refers to the transmission of light through tissues of the body.


  1. General
    • Completely darken the room
    • Decreased light transmission suggests Sinusitis
  2. Maxillary Sinus
    • Position patient
      • Patient’s neck in sniffing position
        • Neck slightly extended back
      • Patient keeps mouth open (remove upper dentures)
    • Place transilluminator over the lower orbital rim
      • Apply light source below inner aspect of eye
        • Applied just lateral to nose
      • Direct light source downward toward mouth
    • Observe for glow on Hard Palate of open mouth
      • Normal if dim red glow seen on Hard Palate
      • Compare both sides


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