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  • Author or Editor: Carl H. Snyderman x
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Joseph D. Chabot, Chirag R. Patel, Marion A. Hughes, Eric W. Wang, Carl H. Snyderman, Paul A. Gardner and Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda

OBJECTIVE

The vascularized nasoseptal flap (NSF) has become the workhorse for skull base reconstruction during endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) of the ventral skull base. Although infrequently reported, as with any vascularized flap the NSF may undergo ischemic necrosis and become a nidus for infection. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s experience with NSF was reviewed to determine the incidence of necrotic NSF in patients following EES and describe the clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, and risk factors associated with this complication.

METHODS

The electronic medical records of 1285 consecutive patients who underwent EES at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between January 2010 and December 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. From this first group, a list of all patients in whom NSF was used for reconstruction was generated and further refined to determine if the patient returned to the operating room and the cause of this reexploration. Patients were included in the final analysis if they underwent endoscopic reexploration for suspected CSF leak or meningitis. Those patients who returned to the operating room for staged surgery or hematoma were excluded. Two neurosurgeons and a neuroradiologist, who were blinded to each other’s results, assessed the MRI characteristics of the included patients.

RESULTS

In total, 601 patients underwent NSF reconstruction during the study period, and 49 patients met the criteria for inclusion in the final analysis. On endoscopic exploration, 8 patients had a necrotic, nonviable NSF, while 41 patients had a viable NSF with a CSF leak. The group of patients with a necrotic, nonviable NSF was then compared with the group with viable NSF. All 8 patients with a necrotic NSF had clinical and laboratory evidence indicative of meningitis compared with 9 of 41 patients with a viable NSF (p < 0.001). Four patients with necrotic flaps developed epidural empyema compared with 2 of 41 patients in the viable NSF group (p = 0.02). The lack of NSF enhancement on MR (p < 0.001), prior surgery (p = 0.043), and the use of a fat graft (p = 0.004) were associated with necrotic NSF.

CONCLUSIONS

The signs of meningitis after EES in the absence of a clear CSF leak with the lack of NSF enhancement on MRI should raise the suspicion of necrotic NSF. These patients should undergo prompt exploration and debridement of nonviable tissue with revision of skull base reconstruction.

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Ana C. I. Nakassa, Joseph D. Chabot, Carl H. Snyderman, Eric W. Wang, Paul A. Gardner and Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda

Intracranial epidermoid cysts are benign lesions of epithelial origin that most frequently present with symptoms of mass effect. Although they are often associated with a high rate of residual tumor and recurrence, maximal safe resection usually leads to good outcomes. The authors report a complete resection of an uncommon pituitary stalk epidermoid cyst with intrasellar extension using a combined suprasellar and infrasellar interpituitary, endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach. The patient, a 54-year-old woman, presented with headache, visual disturbance, and diabetes insipidus. Postoperatively, she reported improvement in her visual symptoms and well-controlled diabetes insipidus using 0.1 mg of desmopressin at bedtime and normal anterior pituitary gland function. One year later, she continues to receive the same dosage of desmopressin and is also taking 50 mcg of levothyroxine daily after developing primary hypothyroidism unrelated to the surgical procedure. A combined infrasellar interpituitary and suprasellar approach to this rare location for an epidermoid cyst can lead to a safe and complete resection with good clinical outcomes.