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Laryngoscope. 2003 Jan;113(1):50-6.

Management of cerebrospinal fluid leaks involving the temporal bone: report on 92 patients.

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1
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the success of different surgical and nonsurgical techniques in the management of cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea.

STUDY DESIGN:

Retrospective case analysis.

METHODS:

Ninety-two patients with confirmed diagnosis of cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea treated at our institution between 1976 and 1998 were followed up long-term by retrospective chart review and patient interviews.

RESULTS:

Conservative treatment was successful in most cases of cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea resulting from head injury (26 of 29 patients). In contrast, surgical intervention was required in all but 1 of 53 patients with cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea caused surgically. The primary operative success rate was 76.9%. When relapse occurred, the interval ranged from 0 days to 24 months (mean interval, 3.9 mo; median, 1.3 mo). All leaks requiring surgery eventually were closed successfully. Surgical results were chronologically dependent. Before 1989, 11 failures occurred in 37 primary procedures. After 1989, only 4 failures occurred in 28 primary procedures. Of seven patients undergoing primary dural closure alone, three (43%) had recurrence of the leak. Closure rates were highest among patients in whom a multilayer technique for leak closure was used: combining a primary graft or sealing material such as bone wax, free muscle, or fascia for closure of the defect with additional autologous free grafts or allogenic materials. This resulted in a 2-year closure rate of 100% compared with a 2-year rate of 75.4% for patients whose primary closure was supported by a single layer of autologous or allogenic material (P =.034). Fibrin glue with primary closure alone did not have additional benefit. Postoperative meningitis occurred in two patients and was treated without sequelae.

CONCLUSIONS:

Conservative treatment should be reserved for cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea resulting from head injury. Postoperative and nontraumatic cerebrospinal fluid otorrhea or otorhinorrhea should have early operative intervention. A multilayer technique combining allogenic materials with free autologous grafts is recommended.

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