Management of cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea: An evidence-based review with recommendations

Academic Article


  • Background: Management strategies employed for cases of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea vary widely because of limited evidence-based guidance. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed using PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases from January 1990 through September 2014 to examine 5 endoscopic repair techniques and 8 perioperative management strategies for CSF rhinorrhea. Benefit-harm assessments, value judgments, and recommendations were made based on the available evidence. Study exclusion criteria were language other than English, pre-1990 studies, case reports, and nonrhinologic leak. All authors agreed on recommendations through an iterative process. Results: We reviewed 67 studies examining 13 practices pertinent to the management of CSF rhinorrhea, reaching a highest aggregate grade of evidence of B. The literature does not support the routine use of prophylactic antibiotics or lumbar drainage. Various endoscopic repair materials show similar success rates; however, larger defects may benefit from vascularized grafts. There were no relevant studies to address postoperative activity restrictions. Conclusion: Despite relatively low levels of evidence, recommendations for the management of CSF rhinorrhea can be made based on the current literature. Higher-level studies are needed to better determine optimal clinical management approaches.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Oakley GM; Orlandi RR; Woodworth BA; Batra PS; Alt JA
  • Start Page

  • 17
  • End Page

  • 24
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1