Anterior encephaloceles: a series of 103 cases over 32 years

J Clin Neurosci. 2006 Jun;13(5):536-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2005.05.016. Epub 2006 May 6.


Anterior encephalocele is a rarely reported CNS malformation with a geographical predilection for South-East Asia. The paucity of literature prompted us to analyse our results with hemiorbital advancement and classical Tessier's operation in 103 cases over 32 years (1971-2002). In our series, the frontoethmoidal subtype was the most common (80%), followed by the orbital (8%), transethmoidal (8%), transsellar (3%) and interfrontal types (1%). All patients with classical frontoethmoidal encephalocele had swelling over the nose or inner canthus since birth, with varying degrees of hypertelorism; and those with the nasopharyngeal subtype commonly presented with nasal obstruction and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhoea. Neurofibromatosis was present in seven patients, all of whom had an orbital encephalocele. The diagnostic workup included a computerised tomography scan of the head in 96 patients and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in 16 patients. The associated findings on imaging were hydrocephalus (15%), corpus callosum agenesis (7%), arachnoid cyst (3%), porencephalic cyst (3%) and single ventricle (3%). A classical Tessier's operation was performed in the initial 30 cases. However, since 1988, we have been performing a single stage hemiorbital advancement and repair of the encephalocele. There were three deaths, one due to pneumonia and two due to fulminant meningitis. Twenty-two patients (22%) had postoperative CSF leak, of which five required lumboperitoneal shunt placement. We believe that hemiorbital advancement offers satisfactory results with less morbidity than the Tessier's operation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Encephalocele / diagnostic imaging*
  • Encephalocele / surgery*
  • Ethmoid Bone / abnormalities
  • Ethmoid Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Ethmoid Bone / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Orbit / abnormalities
  • Orbit / diagnostic imaging
  • Orbit / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / trends