Spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea poses a major challenge to rhinologists. Much controversy attends its cause, pathophysiology, management, and prognosis. It has been suggested that endoscopic placement of a septal graft with a middle turbinate rotational flap may represent the ideal approach to closing skull base defects. We conducted a retrospective chart review to compile the results of this approach in 31 patients with spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea-22 women and 9 men, aged 18 to 67 years (mean 38.5 ± 8.96) at diagnosis. After one surgery, success had been achieved in 27 of these patients (87.1%). The remaining 4 patients underwent a second surgery, and 2 of them experienced a successful closure. In the remaining 2 patients, a third surgery was still unsuccessful, and they were referred to the neurosurgical team for a shunt procedure. Thus, the overall success rate with the septal graft and a middle turbinate rotational flap was 93.5% (29/31). Septal grafts and middle turbinate flaps are easy to harvest and easy to place. Accurate localization of the defect, meticulous surgical technique, and cerebral dehydrating measures may improve outcomes. Further study of spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea to better evaluate its pathophysiology and prognostic factors is warranted.
A finding of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea implies the presence of a fistula between the subarachnoid space and the sinonasal tract. Patients with a CSF leak exhibit symptoms such as clear nasal discharge and headache. Immediate identification plus repair of a CSF fistula can prevent the development of life-threatening complications such as pneumocephalus, meningitis, and brain abscess.1