Adult spontaneous CSF otorrhea: Correlation with radiographic empty sella

Christopher N. Prichard, Brandon Isaacson, John S. Oghalai, Newton J. Coker, Jeffrey T. Vrabec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the prevalence of radiographic empty sella in patients with spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) otorrhea. Study Design and Setting: Retrospective case series of adult patients with CSF otorhinorrhea at an academic tertiary medical center. Patients with history of skull base surgery, trauma, tumor, or chronic ear disease were excluded. Available imaging studies were reviewed with attention to the sella turcica. Results: Eight patients were diagnosed with spontaneous CSF otorrhea. Five of seven patients with adequate imaging studies (71%) had a radiographic empty sella. Seven of eight patients were clinically obese, with a body mass index BMI >30 kg/m2. Conclusions: Empty sella is a common radiologic finding in patients with spontaneous CSF otorrhea. This supports the theory that increased intracranial pressure contributes to development of spontaneous CSF otorrhea. Significance: Radiographic empty sella predicts elevated intracranial pressure, which may require further evaluation and treatment in patients with spontaneous CSF otorrhea. EBM rating: C-4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-771
Number of pages5
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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