Combined anterior craniofacial resection for tumors involving the cribriform plate: Early postoperative complications and technical considerations

Carlo L. Solero, Francesco DiMeco, Prakash Sampath, Franco Mattavelli, Natalia Pizzi, Pietro Salvatori, Giulio Cantù

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Combined craniofacial resection has become the standard approach for malignant tumors involving the cribriform plate and anterior cranial fossa. Despite its widespread application, however, many surgeons agree that the procedure carries a risk of significant morbidity and even mortality. The purpose of this study was to analyze the experience at a single institution to determine the incidence of early postoperative complications encountered after combined craniofacial resection of tumors involving the cribriform plate and to provide information to improve management. METHODS: Between 1987 and 1997, 168 patients underwent combined craniofacial resection at the National Cancer Institute of Milan for tumors involving the cribriform plate. Patient charts, operative notes, follow-up clinic notes, radiographic studies, and pathology reports were analyzed. Morbidity encountered in the first 30 cases was compared with that encountered in the subsequent 138 cases. RESULTS: The most frequently encountered pathological findings were adenocarcinoma (53.6%), squamous cell carcinoma (17%), and esthesioneuroblastoma (9.8%). Eight patients (4.7%) died, 6 of whom were among the first 30 patients to undergo resection. Among patients with fatal complications were three with meningoencephalitis, three with intracranial hemorrhage, and one with myocardial infarction. Fifty patients (29.7%) had nonfatal morbidity; 16 of these patients were among the first 30 patients operated. Transient cerebrospinal fluid leakage was the most frequent adverse effect (9.5%); 12 patients (7.1%) had pneumocephalus, 3 (1.8%) had meningitis, 4 (2.4%) had wound infections, 3 (1.8%) experienced transient impairment of mental status, 3 (1.8%) had transient diplopia, 2 (1.2%) had diabetes insipidus, and 1 (0.6%) had bone flap necrosis. CONCLUSION: We observed a dramatic decrease in mortality and morbidity in patients who underwent combined craniofacial resection after the first 30 cases in our series. Improvement of specific aspects of surgical technique, such as more refined reconstructive methods and improved prophylactic antibiotic therapy, is at least partly responsible for this favorable trend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1305
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Cranial base surgery
  • Cranial base tumors
  • Craniofacial resection
  • Ethmoid tumors
  • Paranasal sinuses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Combined anterior craniofacial resection for tumors involving the cribriform plate: Early postoperative complications and technical considerations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this