Congenital trans-sellar trans-sphenoidal encephalocele: a systematic review of diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2024 Apr;281(4):1659-1670. doi: 10.1007/s00405-023-08355-5. Epub 2024 Jan 8.


Purpose: Clinical presentations encompass respiratory, feeding issues, nasopharyngeal mass, meningitis, CSF leakage, craniofacial anomalies, and endocrine problems. Surgery is the primary treatment, transitioning from frontal craniotomy to endoscopic methods, offering improved outcomes. Yet, more studies are needed. A comprehensive review on trans-sellar trans-sphenoidal encephalocele (TSTSE) is missing. Our study aims to fill this gap, offering a comprehensive perspective for physicians.

Methods: This review adhered to the PRISMA guideline. Eligible studies focused on human subjects, specifically trans-sellar encephaloceles, and provided comprehensive treatment details. English language articles published up to April 11th, 2023, were considered. Two trained researchers conducted article screening using consistent criteria. Data extraction covered various aspects, including clinical presentation, surgical methods, and outcomes, with results presented descriptively in two tables. Due to the rarity of this congenital anomaly, meta-analysis and publication bias assessment were not feasible. Data extraction was independently conducted by two reviewers, with subsequent cross-verification.

Results: A total of 36 patients were identified from 14 studies, the most frequently observed clinical presentation was dyspnea (41.67%) and the most frequently observed accompanying anomaly was cleft lip/palate (55.56%). CT and MRI were adopted in nearly all the cases, and trans-nasal approach was the most often used surgical approach (57.14%) with the 'soft material combination' the most commonly used method for cranial base repairment (35.71%). A total of two deaths occurred and diabetes insipidus was the most common perioperative complication which occurred in six surgery patients (21.43%).

Conclusion: TSTSE predominantly affects males and presents with dyspnea, visual deficits, pituitary insufficiency, and cranial base-related symptoms. Early diagnosis is critical, with advanced imaging playing a key role. Endocrine assessment is vital for hormone management. Surgery offers symptom relief but entails risks, including reported fatalities and complications. The choice between surgery and conservative management requires careful deliberation. The trans-nasal approach is favored for its reduced trauma, yet further research is necessary to validate this preference.

Keywords: Congenital; Encephalocele; Trans-sellar; Trans-sphenoidal.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip*
  • Cleft Palate*
  • Dyspnea
  • Encephalocele / diagnosis
  • Encephalocele / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis