Identification of intranasal cerebrospinal fluid leaks by topical application with fluorescein dye

Michael E. Jones, Tony Reino, Alex Gnoy, Samuel Guillory, Phillip Wackym, William Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to describe a safe new technique for intraoperative identification of the site of cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea after intracranial or intranasal surgery is a known potential complication with significant morbidity and mortality. It is currently accepted that endoscopic intranasal management of CSF rhinorrhea is the preferred method of surgical repair, with higher success rates and less morbidity than intracranial surgical repair in selected cases. Accurate identification of the site of CSF leakage is necessary for a successful endoscopic surgical repair. Computer tomography (CT) with or without intrathecal contrast and preoperative nasal endoscopy are frequently used to preoperatively localize the site of the leak. Intrathecal fluorescein administered immediately before surgery has aided in the intraoperative identification of the site of CSF leak in 25-64% of patients undergoing endoscopic repair of CSF rhinorrhea in whom preoperative CT scanning and nasal endoscopy had not identified the site of CSF leak. Intrathecal fluorescein, however, has been associated with severe complications, such as lower extremity weakness, numbness, generalized seizures, opisthotonus, and cranial nerve deficits. We present three cases of CSF rhinorrhea in which fluorescein was applied intranasally during the endoscopic surgical repair. Ten percent fluorescein was applied to the nose with a cotton swab. Under endoscopic visualization the fluorescein changed its fluorescent color from amber/yellow to a dark green and was found streaming from high in the nasal cavity, which led to accurate identification of the site of the CSF leak.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-96
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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