Editor-in-Chief: Kenneth D. Candido, MD
BACKGROUND: Intracranial hypotension (IH) among patients with persistent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage remains a challenging problem. The majority of these cases resolve spontaneously with conservative measures. The customary treatment for IH is epidural blood patch (EBP). In some cases, CSF leaks can persist for months or even years despite multiple trials of EBP. To date, there are only a limited number of published studies documenting the percutaneous injection of fibrin sealant for treatment of IH refractory to conservative measures and EBP.
OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to perform a literature review and retrospective case series regarding patients who underwent percutaneous injection of fibrin sealant for treatment of refractory IH at our institution.
STUDY DESIGN: This case series used a single-centered retrospective observational study design and literature review.
SETTING: Patients in this case series were treated at a community-based tertiary care medical center.
METHODS: Five consecutive patients with the diagnosis of IH refractory to conservative measures and EBP who underwent percutaneous patching with fibrin sealant were identified at our institution between January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2016. A retrospective chart review was performed and data including demographics, characteristics, interventions, clinical outcomes, and complications were collected. A critical review of the current literature regarding the percutaneous use of fibrin sealant for treatment of IH was conducted.
RESULTS: Four of the 5 patients (80%) experienced no further symptoms of IH and no adverse events were noted. One patient (20%) ultimately required surgical duroplasty. Review of the current literature showed a total of 2 prospective case series, 4 retrospective case series, and 11 case reports. Our present case series and literature review demonstrated that fibrin sealants were well-tolerated by most patients and associated with low incidences of complications and recurrence.
LIMITATIONS: This study is limited by the small retrospective case series of 5 patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Percutaneous injection of fibrin sealant may be considered in refractory cases of IH when repeated trials of EBP have persistently failed. It appears to be a highly effective, safe, and easy-to-use alternative therapy for patients with refractory IH in an ambulatory setting. Our review of the literature revealed only studies with low quality of evidence, including case series and case reports. There is a substantial need for high-quality studies and clinical evidence to corroborate the efficacy and safety of this percutaneous technique. However, this ideal is very challenging because of the relative rarity and heterogeneous etiologies of cases.
KEY WORDS: Fibrin sealant, intracranial hypotension, CSF leak, epidural blood patch, orthostatic headache, refractory, quality of life, percutaneous