Objective: Despite progress in endonasal skull-base neurosurgery, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhoea remains common and significant. The CRANIAL study sought to determine 1) the scope of skull-base repair methods used, and 2) corresponding rates of postoperative CSF rhinorrhoea in the endonasal transsphenoidal approach (TSA) and the expanded endonasal approach (EEA) for skull-base tumors. Methods: A prospective observational cohort study of 30 centres performing endonasal skull-base neurosurgery in the UK and Ireland (representing 91% of adult units). Patients were identified for 6 months and followed up for 6 months. Data collection and analysis was guided by our published protocol and pilot studies. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariable logistic regression models were used for analysis. Results: A total of 866 patients were included - 726 TSA (84%) and 140 EEA (16%). There was significant heterogeneity in repair protocols across centres. In TSA cases, nasal packing (519/726, 72%), tissue glues (474/726, 65%) and hemostatic agents (439/726, 61%) were the most common skull base repair techniques. Comparatively, pedicled flaps (90/140, 64%), CSF diversion (38/140, 27%), buttresses (17/140, 12%) and gasket sealing (11/140, 9%) were more commonly used in EEA cases. CSF rhinorrhoea (biochemically confirmed or requiring re-operation) occurred in 3.9% of TSA (28/726) and 7.1% of EEA (10/140) cases. A significant number of patients with CSF rhinorrhoea (15/38, 39%) occurred when no intraoperative CSF leak was reported. On multivariate analysis, there may be marginal benefits with using tissue glues in TSA (OR: 0.2, CI: 0.1-0.7, p<0.01), but no other technique reached significance. There was evidence that certain characteristics make CSF rhinorrhoea more likely – such as previous endonasal surgery and the presence of intraoperative CSF leak. Conclusions: There is a wide range of skull base repair techniques used across centres. Overall, CSF rhinorrhoea rates across the UK and Ireland are lower than generally reported in the literature. A large proportion of postoperative leaks occurred in the context of occult intraoperative CSF leaks, and decisions for universal sellar repairs should consider the risks and cost-effectiveness of repair strategies. Future work could include longer-term, higher-volume studies, such as a registry; and high-quality interventional studies.



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Frontiers in Oncology





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Peninsula Medical School