Microvascular Reconstruction of the Anterior Skull Base

Adaure Nwaba, Alisha Ho, Marco F. Ellis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Anterior skull base defects present a unique reconstructive challenge. Risk factors such as previous operation, radiation and infection require a multidisciplinary approach to create a stable wound. Reconstructive microsurgery serves an important role when attempts with pericranial flap placement and nonvascularized graft obliteration fail. Our series analyzes the outcomes of 5 patients who underwent vascularized reconstruction of craniofacial defects at Northwestern Memorial Hospital from 2014-2021. Each patient presented with a complex, hostile scalp and bony wound. Common risk factors included previous craniotomy, failed obliteration, chemoradiation, osteomyelitis and epidural abscess. Patients underwent multi-stage procedures to obtain wound source control, reconstruct the frontal sinus and skull base, and frontal bone cranioplasty. Each patient underwent successful free flap reconstruction without flap loss or donor site complications. No patients suffered ongoing symptomatic CSF leak or pneumocephalus. However, only two patients have had sustained success with their alloplastic cranioplasty. A perfect, watertight seal is required to prevent seeding the implant and avoiding infection. Overall, free flap reconstruction of the skull base and frontal sinus is a necessary solution when patients fail more conservative locoregional options. Close collaboration with neurosurgery can help with diagnosis and establish the optimal timing for surgical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E886-E890
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • cranioplasty
  • frontal sinus
  • microsurgery
  • scalp reconstruction
  • skull base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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