OBJECTIVE: Based on a null hypothesis that the use of short-term lumbar drainage (LD) after endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) for intradural pathology does not prevent postoperative CSF leaks, a trial was conducted to assess the effect of postoperative LD on postoperative CSF leak following standard reconstruction. METHODS: A prospective, randomized controlled trial of lumbar drain placement after endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery was performed from February 2011 to March 2015. All patients had 3-month follow-up data. Surgeons were blinded to which patients would or would not receive the drain until after closure was completed. An a priori power analysis calculation assuming 80% of power, 5% postoperative CSF leak rate in the no-LD group, and 16% in the LD group determined a planned sample size of 186 patients. A routine data and safety check was performed with every 50 patients being recruited to ensure the efficacy of randomization and safety. These interim tests were run by a statistician who was not blinded to the arms they were evaluating. This study accrued 230 consecutive adult patients with skull base pathology who were eligible for endoscopic endonasal resection. Inclusion criteria (high-flow leak) were dural defect greater than 1 cm2 (mandatory), extensive arachnoid dissection, and/or dissection into a ventricle or cistern. Sixty patients were excluded because they did not meet the inclusion criteria. One hundred seventy patients were randomized to either receive or not receive a lumbar drain. RESULTS: One hundred seventy patients were randomized, with a mean age of 51.6 years (range 19-86 years) and 38% were male. The mean BMI for the entire cohort was 28.1 kg/m2. The experimental cohort with postoperative LD had an 8.2% rate of CSF leak compared to a 21.2% rate in the control group (odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 1.2-7.6, p = 0.017). In 106 patients in whom defect size was measured intraoperatively, a larger defect was associated with postoperative CSF leak (6.2 vs 2.9 cm2, p = 0.03). No significant difference was identified in BMI between those with (mean 28.4 ± 4.3 kg/m2) and without (mean 28.1 ± 5.6 kg/m2) postoperative CSF leak (p = 0.79). Furthermore, when patients were grouped based on BMI < 25, 25-29.9, and > 30 kg/m2, no difference was noted in the rates of CSF fistula (p = 0.97). CONCLUSIONS: Among patients undergoing intradural EES judged to be at high risk for CSF leak as defined by the study's inclusion criteria, perioperative LD used in the context of vascularized nasoseptal flap closure significantly reduced the rate of postoperative CSF leaks.Clinical trial registration no.: NCT03163134 (clinicaltrials.gov).
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