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Introduction

Many papers and investigations on nasal physiology have been published in the last 40 years; as a consequence, knowledge of nasal functions has now been well established. In contrast, however, the role of the human paranasal sinuses remains as much an enigma today as it was nearly two millennia ago (BlanEy 1990). According to Coie (1998), the conclusive evidence of a functional relevance of the paranasal sinuses has yet to be found. Even though the existence of the paranasal sinuses may be unexplained, their susceptibility to disease is a common

D. Tomenzoli, MD

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Brescia, Piazzale Spedali Civili 1, Brescia, BS, 25123, Italy source of suffering for patients and a focus of attention for clinicians.

"Physiologic" breathing occurs through the nose; it may be supplemented by oral respiration under demanding conditions of exercise or of severe nasal obstruction. Nasal fossae may not only be considered the front door of the respiratory system, but are also characterized by peculiar and significant functions other than breathing: conditioning and moistening of the nasal air-flow, filtration of inspired noxious materials, specific and non-specific antibacterial and antiviral activities, reflex action, collection of water from expired airflow, olfactory function.

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