Plain X-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans performed for non-ENT reasons often reveal incidental sinus mucosal changes. These changes need to be correlated clinically before diagnosing rhinosinusitis. This study examined the prevalence of such changes in MRI scans in children up to age 16. Scans were scored using an adapted Lund-Mackay classification and were positive when one or more sinuses showed abnormalities. Randomly selected scans in the retrospective arm revealed a prevalence of 20 of 62 (32 3 per cent). In the prospective arm 45 of 60 children were defined as truly asymptomatic, of which 14 scans (31 per cent) were positive. Other studies in adults and children using CT and MRI report a prevalence range of roughly 30 to 45 per cent. This variability may be attributed to differences of study design, definitions of population age, definitions of asymptomatic and definition of abnormal sinus. Other plausible factors to explain regional differences are climate and frequency of upper respiratory tract infections.