Intrathecal Application of Fluorescent Dye for Identification of Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks in Cochlear Malformations

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In cases of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, reliable detection of their origins is needed to seal the leak sufficiently and prevent complications, such as meningitis. A method is presented here using intrathecal administered fluorescein in a clinical case of bilateral congenital ear malformation. A fluorescent dye is administered intrathecally to achieve intraoperative visualization of CSF leaks. The dye is applied 20 min before surgery, and concentration of 5% is used. Per every 10 kg of body weight, 0.1 mL of the fluid is applied intrathecally. The fluorescein is visualized using a fully digital microscope. The origin of the fluid leak is identified in the stapes footplate. During primary surgery, it is sealed, and cochlea implantation is performed for hearing restoration. In this specific case, 6 weeks later, the implant was explanted due to acute meningitis, and the electrode array was left as a spacer. Postoperatively, in the aural smear, β-transferrin was detected. During a revision mastoidectomy, dislocated coverage of the leak was found. The stapes was removed and oval window sealed. Five days after revision surgery, no β-transferrin was detected in the aural smear. During the revision of cochlea implantation 6 months later, intact coverage of the oval niche was observed. Thus, intrathecal fluorescein application proves to be a reliable tool for the detection of CSF leaks. It facilitates the orientation in malformations and complicated or unknown surgical situs. In the literature, its use is described for CSF fistulas in endonasal surgery but is rarely described in skull base and mastoid surgeries. The method has been used successfully in several cases with CSF leaks, and the results confirm the feasibility of safely accessing the origin of the leak.