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Rhinology. 2013 Sep;51(3):268-74. doi: 10.4193/Rhino13.008.

Optimising outcomes in the management of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhoea.

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  • 1Otolaryngology Department, Imperial College Healthcare, London, UK.



To describe our experience of the management of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhoea in a large case series focusing on surgical approach, peri-operative management and outcomes; to evaluate the efficacy of endoscopic CSF leak repairs.


Retrospective chart review was performed for all patients with spontaneous CSF rhinorrhoea managed from 2003 to 2011 at a tertiary referral centre. Data regarding demographics, presentation, site of leak, peri-operative management, surgical approach, body mass index (BMI), follow up and success rates was collated.


Thirty-six patients were identified: 9 male and 27 female with a mean age of 50.4 years. Eight patients had previous failed repairs in other units. Success rate after first surgery was 89 % and after second surgery was 100 %. Four patients had recurrences, 3 underwent successful revisions and the fourth had complete cessation of the leak after gastric bypass surgery and weight reduction. All failures were before 2004 prior to instigation of an anatomic three-layered repair with no further failures in the following 7 years. Mean follow up was 21.5 months. Mean body mass index was 34.0 kg/m2. Fifty percent of spontaneous leaks were from the cribriform plate, 22 % sphenoid, 14 % ethmoid and 14 % frontal sinus.


Endoscopic CSF fistula closure has become the gold standard of care. In order to optimise the outcome, we recommend a multidisciplinary approach to manage the associated idiopathic intracranial hypertension and an anatomic three-layered closure technique for recalcitrant cases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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