High-viscosity polymethylmethacrylate cement for endoscopic anterior cranial base reconstruction

J Neurosurg 113:1100–1105, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2010.3.JNS09453)

Endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery (ETSS) is an effective, minimally invasive approach for the resection of anterior skull base tumors. Cerebrospinal leakage is a common complication, and repair of the anterior skull base defect with alloplastic materials has been used to minimize the risk of postoperative CSF rhinorrhea and meningitis. Injectable cements, such as low-viscosity polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), are useful for cranial base reconstruction because they are easy to shape to the contour of the defect. These low-viscosity materials, however, are more susceptible to leakage into the nasal cavity prohibiting their use and are prone to cracking upon hardening. Cement extravasation not only obstructs the operator’s view during placement, but it is also associated with significant local and systemic complications. High-viscosity (HV) PMMA–based cement and its specialized delivery system have recently been shown to be safe and effective in human applications. Moreover, its constant high viscosity significantly reduces cement leakage and its associated complications.

The authors hypothesized that this type of cement would therefore be ideal for ETSS to repair anterior skull base defects. The authors report their experience using HV-PMMA to reconstruct the anterior skull base in 12 patients following ETSS. The unique puttylike consistency of this material is easy to work, malleable, does not leak into the nasal cavity, does not aspirate into suction tubing, and hardens without cracks in less than 10 minutes. None of the 12 patients suffered postoperative CSF leaks or infections more than 8 months, on average, after surgery.

Although not necessary in all cases of ETSS, the authors conclude that HV-PMMA, if needed, may be an excellent choice for reconstructing the anterior skull base after ETSS. Further studies are needed to better assess the long-term outcomes of HV-PMMA cement and its use in repairing skull base defects after extended ETSS.