Surgical Outcomes and Postoperative Management in Spontaneous Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea

Zi Yang Jiang, Caitlin Mclean, Carlos L Perez, Samuel L Barnett, Deborah I Friedman, Bobby A. Tajudeen, Pete S. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background The etiology of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea remains unknown, though emerging evidence suggests that this likely represents a variant of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Long-term success rates for repair and postoperative management strategies remain variable. Methods Retrospective review of patients undergoing surgical management of spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea was conducted over a 5-year period. Analysis was performed to correlate recurrence with demographics and perioperative variables. Lumbar puncture usage and neuro-ophthalmological examinations in clinical management were also assessed. Results Forty-eight patients were included in the study. The mean age was 51.4 years with 94% females. Leaks were most commonly located in the sphenoid (43.8%) and cribriform region (33.3%). The most common findings on magnetic resonance imaging were empty sella (48%) and Meckel's cave diverticula (24%). Nine patients (18.8%) had recurrent CSF leaks. Six occurred >1 month postoperatively. Three had repeat endoscopic repairs, two received ventriculoperitoneal shunts, and one was managed with a lumbar drain, with overall success rate of 93.8%. Acetazolamide was utilized in 19 cases (39.6%) postoperatively. Overall, 59% of patients had elevated opening pressures on postoperative lumbar puncture (n = 32). Neuro-ophthalmology evaluated 28 patients; 25% had visual field deficits, and 7.1% had papilledema. Conclusions Management of spontaneous CSF leaks remains a significant challenge. Endoscopic repair is successful in most patients with little morbidity; however, postoperative management remains inconsistent, and further studies are warranted to establish consensus on post-surgical care. The association with elevated intracranial pressure and visual field deficits/papilledema suggests opening pressures, and neuro-ophthalmologic evaluation should be considered in the treatment algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurological Surgery, Part B: Skull Base
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • endoscopy
  • intracranial hypertension
  • leak
  • rhinorrhea
  • skull base
  • spontaneous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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