Elevated body mass index and risk of postoperative CSF leak following transsphenoidal surgery: Clinical article

Brian J. Dlouhy, Karthik Madhavan, John D. Clinger, Ambur Reddy, Jeffrey D. Dawson, Erin K. O'Brien, Eugene Chang, Scott M. Graham, Jeremy D.W. Greenlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Object. Postoperative CSF leakage can be a serious complication after a transsphenoidal surgical approach. An elevated body mass index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for spontaneous CSF leaks. However, there is no evidence correlating BMI with postoperative CSF leak after transsphenoidal surgery. The authors hypothesized that patients with elevated BMI would have a higher incidence of CSF leakage complications following transsphenoidal surgery. Methods. The authors conducted a retrospective review of 121 patients who, between August 2005 and March 2010, underwent endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgeries for resection of primarily sellar masses. Patients requiring extended transsphenoidal approaches were excluded. A multivariate statistical analysis was performed to investigate the association of BMI and other risk factors with postoperative CSF leakage. Results. In 92 patients, 96 endonasal endoscopic transsphenoidal surgeries were performed that met inclusion criteria. Thirteen postoperative leaks occurred and required subsequent treatment, including lumbar drainage and/or reoperation. The average BMI of patients with a postoperative CSF leak was significantly greater than that in patients with no postoperative CSF leak (39.2 vs 32.9 kg/m 2, p = 0.006). Multivariate analyses indicate that for every 5-kg/m 2increase in BMI, patients undergoing a transsphenoidal approach for a primarily sellar mass have 1.61 times the odds (95% CI 1.10-2.29, p = 0.016, by multivariate logistic regression) of having a postoperative CSF leak. Conclusions. Elevated BMI is an independent predictor of postoperative CSF leak after an endonasal endoscopic transsphenoidal approach. The authors recommend that patients with BMI greater than 30 kg/m 2 have meticulous sellar reconstruction at surgery and close monitoring postoperatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1317
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Complication
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Obesity
  • Pituitary surgery
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Rathke cleft cyst
  • Rhinorrhea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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