OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to assess the efficacy of current diagnostic modalities in the management of skull base cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fistulas. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of all patients presenting to our institution over the past 6 years with skull base CSF fistulas. RESULTS: Fifty-two patients were included in the study. β2-Transferrin analysis of collected specimen was the most efficacious means of confirming a CSF leak. High-resolution computed tomography was the most informative radiographic study, yielding a sensitivity and an accuracy of 87%. Magnetic resonance cisternography, yielding a sensitivity and an accuracy of 78%, was instrumental in localizing the site of leak for a few cases but was most commonly corroborative. Using a graduated diagnostic approach, successful repair was attained in 88% of cases after 1 attempt and 98% after 1 or 2 attempts. CONCLUSION: For patients with skull base CSF fistulas, a graduated diagnostic approach with emphasis on confirmation of leak by β2-transferrin analysis and precise localization by high-resolution computed tomography is both efficacious and cost effective.
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