Surgical nuances for nasoseptal flap reconstruction of cranial base defects with high-flow cerebrospinal fluid leaks after endoscopic skull base surgery

Neurosurg Focus 32 (6):E7, 2012. DOI: 10.3171/2012.5.FOCUS1255

Extended endoscopic endonasal approaches have allowed for a minimally invasive solution for removal of a variety of ventral skull base lesions, including intradural tumors. Depending on the location of the pathological entity, various types of surgical corridors are used, such as transcribriform, transplanum transtuberculum, transsellar, transclival, and transodontoid approaches. Often, a large skull base dural defect with a high-flow CSF leak is created after endoscopic skull base surgery. Successful reconstruction of the cranial base defect is paramount to separate the intracranial contents from the paranasal sinus contents and to prevent postoperative CSF leakage. The vascularized pedicled nasoseptal flap (PNSF) has become the workhorse for cranial base reconstruction after endoscopic skull base surgery, dramatically reducing the rate of postoperative CSF leakage since its implementation.

In this report, the authors review the surgical technique and describe the operative nuances and lessons learned for successful multilayered PNSF reconstruction of cranial base defects with high-flow CSF leaks created after endoscopic skull base surgery. The authors specifically highlight important surgical pearls that are critical for successful PNSF reconstruction, including target-specific flap design and harvesting, pedicle preservation, preparation of bony defect and graft site to optimize flap adherence, multilayered closure technique, maximization of the reach of the flap, final flap positioning, and proper bolstering and buttressing of the PNSF to prevent flap dehiscence. Using this technique in 93 patients, the authors’ overall postoperative CSF leak rate was 3.2%.

An illustrative intraoperative video demonstrating the reconstruction technique is also presented.