Repair of Frontoethmoidal Encephalocele in the Philippines: An Account of 30 Cases Between 2008-2013

World Neurosurg. 2017 Jul:103:19-27. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.03.063. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Background: Frontoethmoidal encephalocele is a congenital abnormality of the anterior skull base involving herniation of cranial contents through a midline skull defect. Patency of the foramen cecum, along with other multifactorial variables, contributes to the development of frontoethmoidal encephaloceles. Because of limited resources, financial constraints, and lack of surgical expertise, repair of frontoethmoidal encephaloceles is limited in developing countries.

Methods: Between 2008 and 2013 an interdisciplinary team composed of neurosurgeons, craniofacial surgeons, otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons, and nursing personnel, conducted surgical mission trips to Davao City in Mindanao, Philippines. All patients underwent a combined extracranial/intracranial surgical approach, performed in tandem by a neurosurgeon and a craniofacial surgeon, to detach and remove the encephalocele. This procedure was followed by reconstruction of the craniofacial defects.

Results: A total of 30 cases of frontoethmoidal encephalocele were repaired between 2008 and 2013 (20 male; 10 female). The average age at operation was 8.7 years, with 7 patients older than 17 years. Of the 3 subtypes, the following breakdown was observed in patients: 18 nasoethmoidal; 9 nasofrontal; and 3 naso-orbital. Several patients showed concurrent including enlarged ventricles, arachnoid cysts (both unilateral and bilateral), and gliotic changes, as well as orbit and bulbus oculi (globe) deformities. There were no operative-associated mortalities or neurologic deficits, infections, or hydrocephalus on follow-up during subsequent trips.

Conclusions: Despite the limitations of performing advanced surgery in a developing country, the combined interdisciplinary surgical approach has offered effective treatment to improve physical appearance and psychological well-being in afflicted patients.

Keywords: Foramen cecum; Frontoethmoidal encephalocele; Neural tube defect; Pediatric craniofacial reconstruction; Skull base.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arachnoid Cysts / epidemiology
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Encephalocele / diagnostic imaging
  • Encephalocele / epidemiology
  • Encephalocele / surgery*
  • Ethmoid Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Ethmoid Bone / surgery
  • Female
  • Frontal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Bone / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medical Missions*
  • Nasal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasal Bone / surgery
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Operative Time
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
  • Otolaryngologists
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Philippines
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / surgery
  • Surgery, Plastic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult