Vol 58, No 1 (2024)
Invited Review Article
Published online: 2024-02-23

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Spontaneous rhinorrhea and idiopathic intracranial hypertension: a complex and challenging association

Leonardo de Macedo Filho1, Carolina Carmona Pinheiro Machado2, Gabrielle Brito Bezerra Mendes2, Luma Maria Figueiredo Santana2, Mauro Emiliano Ruella3, Sanjeet Grewal4, Kaisorn L. Chaichana4, Alfredo Quinones Hinojosa4, Olga Fermo5, Joao Paulo Almeida4
Pubmed: 38393958
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2024;58(1):31-37.


Introduction. Spontaneous CSF leak is a known complication of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). Patients with CSF rhinorrhea present a unique challenge within the IIH population, as the occurrence of a leak can mask the typical IIH symptoms and signs, complicating the diagnosis. Treatment of leaks in this population can also be challenging, with the risk of rhinorrhea recurrence if intracranial hypertension is not adequately treated.

Objective. The aim of this narrative review was to examine current literature on the association between spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea leaks and IIH, focusing on key clinical features, diagnostic approaches, management strategies, and outcomes.

Material and methods. A literature search was executed using the PubMed and Scopus databases. The search was confined to articles published between January 1985 and August 2023; extracted data was then analysed to form the foundation of the narrative review.

Results. This search yielded 26 articles, comprising 943 patients. Average age was 46.8 ± 6.5 years, and average body mass index was 35.8 ± 4.8. Most of the patients were female (74.33%). Presenting symptoms were rhinorrhea, headaches and meningitis. The most common imaging findings were empty sella and encephalocele. The standard treatment approach was endoscopic endonasal approach for correction of CSF rhinorrhea leak, and shunt placement was also performed in 128 (13%) patients. Recurrences were observed in 10% of cases.

Conclusions. The complex relationship between spontaneous CSF leaks and IIH is a challenge that benefits from multidisciplinary evaluation and management for successful treatment. Treatments such as endoscopic repair, acetazolamide, and VP/ /LP shunts reduce complications and recurrence. Personalised plans addressing elevated intracranial pressure are crucial for successful outcomes.

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