Endoscopic approach best for repairing bone defect between brain, nasal cavity

The best approach for repairing breaks in the thin bone that separates the brain from the nasal cavity is through the nasal cavity, according to an analysis of 92 patients who had this increasingly common approach to treating a fortunately rare problem.

"The intranasal endoscopic approach is the best way to treat a potentially very bad problem," says Dr. Stilianos E. Kountakis, vice chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and principal author of the study published in the October issue of The Laryngoscope.

The alternative is opening the skull, moving the front portion of the brain out of the way destroying smell nerves in the process and approaching the defect from the top, an approach that may be necessary if the defect is too big to treat endoscopically, Dr. Kountakis says.

However, Dr. Kountakis suggests trying the endoscopic approach which uses small cameras and monitors so surgeons can operate with minimal trauma several times before resorting to the open procedure.

The condition, called cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea, results when trauma or high pressures inside the skull cause a break that allows a direct communication between the nose and brain, potentially causing meningitis and even death.

When the cerebrospinal fluid escapes through the nose, loss of protective fluid around the brain can cause headaches as well as the uncontrollable dripping. "That is something that is classic," says Dr. Kountakis, who directs the MCG Georgia Sinus and Allergy Center. "People say when they go to church and bow their heads to pray, fluid runs out," he says, noting that any activity that tilts the head downward or increases internal pressure, from exercise to straining to use the bathroom, can cause dripping. "You cannot stop it," he says. "Mucous from the nose, you always are able to sniff back. But because this fluid has such a low viscosity, when it runs, it runs

Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia

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