Extracranial radial forearm free flap closure of refractory cerebrospinal fluid leaks: A novel hybrid transantral-endoscopic approach

Parul Sinha, Shaun C. Desai, Dun H. Ha, Michael R. Chicoine, Bruce H. Haughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND:: Although rare, recalcitrant cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak after skull base tumor resection or major head trauma is a difficult therapeutic challenge, often complicated by lack of local vascularized tissue in a scarred, radiated field. Craniotomy with a free tissue transfer has been described for CSF leak repair from these complicated skull base defects. OBJECTIVE:: We present our experience with a novel extracranial approach to manage refractory CSF leaks with a radial forearm free flap set in through a transantral and ethmoid sinus approach. METHODS:: Five patients with recalcitrant CSF leaks in the anterior skull base underwent radial forearm free tissue transfer via a hybrid transantral-endoscopic approach. RESULTS:: There were 4 female patients and 1 male patient. Average age was 58 years (range, 30-72 years). Four patients had previous neurosurgical anterior skull base tumor resections, and 1 patient had significant head trauma leading to a recalcitrant CSF leak. All 5 patients had undergone multiple prior endoscopic and/or open repairs. All 5 patients had successful resolution of their leak after undergoing radial forearm free tissue transfer. Two of 5 patients required a second minor endoscopic procedure. No patients required a craniotomy. CONCLUSION:: An extracranial transantral-endoscopic approach for the inset of radial forearm free flap is a safe treatment technique that precludes the need for a craniotomy and promotes effective repair of CSF leaks refractory to traditional endoscopic procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ons219-ons225
Issue numberSUPPL.2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea
  • Free tissue transfer flaps
  • Iatrogenic
  • Postcraniotomy
  • Posttraumatic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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