Reconstruction in open anterior skull base surgery: A review and algorithmic approach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Defects resulting from open resection of anterior skull base neoplasms are difficult to reconstruct. Our objective was to review the literature and describe an evidence-based algorithm that can guide surgeons reconstructing anterior skull base defects. Methods: A research librarian designed database search strategies. Two investigators independently reviewed the resulting abstracts and full text articles. Studies on reconstruction after open anterior skull base resection were included. Studies of lateral and posterior skull base reconstruction, endoscopic endonasal surgery, traumatic and congenital reconstruction were excluded. Based on the review, a reconstructive algorithm was proposed. Results: The search strategy identified 603 unique abstracts. 53 articles were included. Adjacent subsites resected, defect size, radiotherapy history, and contraindications to free tissue transfer were identified as key factors influencing decision making and were used to develop the algorithm. Discussion of the reconstructive ladder as it applies to skull base reconstruction and consideration of patient specific factors are reviewed. Patients with a prior history of radiotherapy or with simultaneous resection of multiple anatomic subsites adjacent to the anterior skull base will likely benefit from free tissue transfer. Conclusions: Reconstruction of anterior skull base defects requires knowledge of the available reconstructive techniques and consideration of defect-specific and patient-specific factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103700
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Anterior skull base
  • Free flap
  • Head and neck reconstruction
  • Reconstructive surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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