Endoscopic management of cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea

Kevin C. McMains, Charles W. Gross, Stilianos E Kountakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Purpose:Most anterior skull base defects causing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea can be readily approached using endoscopic techniques when surgical repair is necessary. We present our data from endoscopic repair of CSF rhinorrhea with long-term follow-up.Methods:Retrospective data analysis of patients that were diagnosed with anterior skull base CSF rhinorrhea and underwent endoscopic repair at a tertiary institution. Data were analyzed to determine the etiology and location of CSF leaks. Diagnostic techniques, surgical techniques, and surgical outcomes were reviewed.Ninety-two patients were diagnosed with CSF rhinorrhea and underwent endoscopic repair over a 12-year period. Forty-eight were males, and 44 were females. The average age was 49 (range 6-81) years. Average follow-up was 25 months, with a range of 12 to 82 months. The etiology of CSF leak was prior endoscopic sinus surgery in 23 patients (25%), idiopathic in 19 (21%), neurosurgery in 17 (18%), trauma in 18 (20%), and the presence of meningocele/encephalocele in 11 patients (12%). The most common location of the defect was the sphenoid sinus (n = 36, 39%), followed by ethmoid roof (n-27, 29%), and cribriform plate (n = 24, 26%). Endoscopic repair was initially successful in 78 (85%) patients. Seven additional patients underwent successful revision endoscopic repair for an overall success rate of 92% (n = 85). Five (6%) large skull base defects were eventually repaired by neurosurgery using open intracranial techniques. No major complications were encountered.The intranasal endoscopic approach is an effective and safe technique in the surgical management of anterior skull base CSF rhinorrhea. Long-term success rate in our patient population was 92%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1833-1837
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Rhinorrhea
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • endoscopic repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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