Endoscopic management of sphenoid sinus cerebrospinal fluid leaks

Nathan B. Sautter, Pete S. Batra, Martin J. Citardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks that originate within the sphenoid sinus pose a unique surgical challenge due to difficulties with access and visualization The objective of this report is to illustrate concepts for the successful management of sphenoid sinus CSF leaks. Methods: Retrospective data analysis was performed on 9 patients who presented to a tertiary care medical center for endoscopic repair of a sphenoid sinus CSF leak from January 2002 to January 2006. Results: The patient cohort included 7 women and 2 men with a mean age of 51.7 years. In 5 cases the CSF leak was caused by a previous neurosurgical procedure; the other 4 cases were idiopathic. An endoscopic pterygomaxillary fossa approach was required in 4 cases. A layered reconstruction of the sphenoid sinus wall with collagen allografts (cadaveric acellular dermal allograft, 8 patients; bovine collagen membrane, 1 patient) and mucosa under endoscopic visualization with intraoperative surgical navigation was performed in all cases. The reconstruction was buttressed with autologous bone in 2 cases and with cartilage in 2 cases. Fibrin sealant was used in 7 cases. Two patients developed transient diabetes insipidus after the repair. Two patients developed a recurrent CSF leak necessitating revision repair 2 and 15 months, respectively, after the initial repair procedure. The average hospital stay was 6.5 days. The mean length of follow-up was 21.1 months. Conclusions: This series demonstrates that minimally invasive endoscopic repair of sphenoid sinus CSF leaks may be accomplished with an acceptable rate of morbidity and excellent outcomes. Extended endoscopic approaches, including the pterygomaxillary fossa approach, may be useful in selected instances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea
  • Endoscopic management
  • Sphenoid sinus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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