OBJECTIVE: Reconstruction of the cranial base using vascularized tissue promotes rapid and complete healing, thus avoiding complications caused by persistent communication between the cranial cavity and the sinonasal tract. The Hadad-Bassagasteguy flap (HBF), a neurovascular pedicled flap of the nasal septum mucoperiosteum and mucoperichondrium based on the nasoseptal artery, seems to be advantageous for the reconstruction of the cranial base after endonasal cranial base surgery.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent endonasal cranial base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from January 30, 2006 to January 30, 2007, identifying patients who experienced reconstruction with a vascularized septal mucosal flap (HBF). We analyzed the demographic data, pathological characteristics, site and extent of resection, use of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion techniques, and outcome.
RESULTS: Seventy-five patients who underwent endonasal cranial base endoscopic surgery received repair with the HBF. In this population, we encountered eight postoperative CSF leaks (10.66%), all in patients who required intra-arachnoidal dissection. When we correct the statistical analysis to include only patients with intra- arachnoidal lesions, the postoperative CSF leak rate is 14.5% (eight of 55 patients). It is notable that six CSF (33%) leaks occurred in our first 25 repairs, whereas we encountered only two postoperative leaks (4%) in the last 50 patients. The corrected CSF leak rate, considering only intra-arachnoidal lesions, was two (5.4%) of 37 patients. This improvement in the CSF leak rate reflects our growing experience and comfort with this reconstructive technique. All of our failures could be matched to a specific technical mistake. In addition, we modified the flap-harvesting technique to allow for staged procedures and the removal of caudal lesions. These special circumstances require storage of the flap in the antrum during the removal of caudal lesions, and suturing of the flap in its original position for staged procedures. One patient experienced a posterior nose bleed from the posterior nasal artery. This was controlled with bipolar electrocautery, thereby preserving the flap blood supply. We encountered no infectious or wound complications in this series of patients. The donor site accumulates crusting, which requires debridement until mucosalization is complete; this usually occurs 6 to 12 weeks after surgery.
CONCLUSION: The HBF is a versatile and reliable reconstructive technique for repairing defects of the anterior, middle, clival, and parasellar cranial base. Its use has resulted in a significant decrease in our incidence of CSF leaks after endonasal cranial base surgery. Attention to technical details is of paramount importance to achieve the best outcomes.