Middle Cranial Fossa (MCF) approach without the use of lumbar drain for the management of spontaneous cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) Leaks

Rick F. Nelson, Joseph P. Roche, Bruce J. Gantz, Marlan R. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the efficacy and morbidity of repairing spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks with the middle cranial fossa (MCF) approach without the use of a lumbar drain (LD), as perioperative use of LD remains controversial. Study Design: Retrospective review from 2003 to 2015. Setting: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Indiana University Health Center. Patients: Those with a confirmed lateral skull base spontaneous CSF leaks and/or encephaloceles. Intervention: MCF approach for repair of spontaneous CSF leak and/or encephalocele without the use of lumbar drain. Assessment of patient age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and medical comorbidities. Main Outcome Measure: Spontaneous CSF leak patient characteristics (age, sex, BMI, obstructive sleep apnea) were collected. Length of stay (LOS), hospital costs, postoperative complications, CSF leak rate, and need for LD were calculated. Results: Sixty-five operative MCF repairs were performed for spontaneous CSF leaks on 60 patients (five had bilateral CSF leaks). CSF diversion with LD was used in 15 of 60 patients, mostly before 2010. After 2010, only three of 44 patients (6.7%) had postoperative otorrhea requiring LD. The use of LD resulted in significantly longer LOS (3.6±1.6 versus 8.7±2.9 d) and hospital costs ($29,621). There were no postoperative complications in 77% (50 of 65) of cases. Three cases required return to the operating room for complications including frontal subdural hematoma (1), subdural CSF collection (1), and tension pneumocephalus (1). No patients experienced long-term neurologic sequelae or long-term CSF leak recurrence with an average length of follow-up of 19.5 months (range 3-137 mo). The average patient BMI was 37.5±8.6 kg/m2. The average age was 57.5±11.4 years and 68% were female. Obstructive sleep apnea was present in 43.3% (26 of 60) of patients. Conclusion: The morbidity of the MCF craniotomy for repair of spontaneous CSF leaks is low and the long-term efficacy of repair is high. Universal use of perioperative lumbar drain is not indicated and significantly increases length of stay and hospital costs. Obesity and obstructive sleep apnea are highly associated with spontaneous CSF leaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1625-1629
Number of pages5
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016


  • CSF
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hospital cost
  • Length of stay
  • Lumbar drain
  • MCF
  • Middle cranial fossa
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Spontaneous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology

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