The expanded endonasal approach in pediatric skull base surgery: A review

Nyall R. London, Gustavo G. Rangel, Patrick C. Walz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Surgery of the pediatric skull base has multiple unique challenges and has seen recent rapid advances. The objective of this review is to assess key issues in pediatric skull base surgery (SBS), including anatomic limitations, surgical approaches, reconstruction techniques, postoperative care, complications, and outcomes. Data Sources: PubMed literature review. Review Methods: A review of the literature was conducted to assess the challenges, recent advances, and reported outcomes in pediatric SBS. Results: The pediatric skull base presents multiple anatomic challenges, including variable patterns of pneumatization, narrow piriform aperture width, and narrow intercarotid distance at the level of the cavernous sinus but not the superior clivus. These issues may be particularly challenging in patients less than 2 years of age. Endoscopic endonasal approaches in the sagittal and coronal plane have been applied to the pediatric skull base while open approaches may still be necessary in the setting of extensive intracranial or orbital disease, as well as disease lateral to critical neurovascular structures. While the nasoseptal flap was initially called into question for pediatric cases, it has been shown through multiple reports to be a feasible and robust reconstructive option. Complications and outcomes often depend upon the pathology. In children, response to noxious stimuli, ability to avoid Valsalva, and adherence to nasal precautions is variable. The use of lumbar drains is more common in pediatric than adult patients. Conclusion: While the pediatric skull base presents unique challenges, outcomes data support that endoscopic endonasal approaches are a pertinent surgical technique in appropriately selected patients. Level of Evidence: 3a.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
JournalLaryngoscope investigative otolaryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • endoscopic endonasal approach
  • pediatric skull base surgery
  • skull base reconstruction
  • surgical outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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