Preoperative management of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea with acetazolamide

Ashwini M. Tilak, Heather Koehn, José Mattos, Spencer C. Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea has been associated with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP). As such, ICP reducing measures are commonly employed to optimize repair. Although postoperative acetazolamide use has been described, no data currently exists on the potential for preoperative use. Methods: A retrospective review was performed including patients treated for anterior spontaneous CSF leaks by a single surgeon over a 6-year period during which acetazolamide therapy (250 mg twice daily) was employed before considering surgical repair. The primary endpoint was whether the patient went on to require surgical repair. Results: A total of 16 patients were identified who were pretreated with acetazolamide. Leak sites were noted as cribriform (5/16), sphenoid (8/16), ethmoid (1/16), multiple (1/16), and indeterminate (1/16). Five patients had resolution of their rhinorrhea without surgery (31.3%). Mean follow-up for these nonsurgical patients was 470 days (range, 64 to 857 days). There were no differences in the patients’ age or site of leak between surgical and nonsurgical patients (p = 0.65, p = 0.52, respectively). Nonsurgical patients had a lower body mass index (BMI) than surgical patients (p = 0.04). Conclusion: This is the first study to report the use of acetazolamide therapy as a primary treatment option for spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea. This therapy enabled surgery to be avoided in 31.3% of patients. This would indicate that in the absence of other contraindications for delaying repair, a trial of acetazolamide therapy could be considered as an initial option in the management of isolated spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-269
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • acetazolamide
  • CSF rhinorrhea
  • idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • medical management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Preoperative management of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea with acetazolamide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this