Frontoethmoidal encephalomeningocele: new morphological findings and a new classification.

Nond Rojvachiranonda*, David J. David, Mark H. Moore, Josh Cole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Given a lack of a comprehensive classification for the frontoethmoidal encephalomeningocele (FEEM), clinical, photographic, and computed tomography (CT) data of 23 nonoperated patients were reviewed. Extracranial pathological findings of interest included herniation masses, facial deformities, and frontonasal bone morphology. Intracranial pathological findings of interest included morphology of the anterior cranial floor and brain malformations. Stereographic software processed data from a new-generation CT scanner into three-dimensional pictures that revealed some interesting morphological findings not often appreciated (eg, herniation mass without underlying external bone defect; mass at location far from external bone defect ["sequestrated cephalocele"]; new type of external bone defect characterized by a combination of nasoethmoidal and naso-orbital defects; correlation between mass, external bone defect, and exit pathway of herniation). Given these observations plus current knowledge available in the medical literature, a new classification system was developed that covers phenotypes and severity of the disease. The "FEEM classification" is an alphanumeric system based on facial deformities, external bone defect, exit pathway of herniation, and malformation of brain. It was tested in 42 patients for usability and validity. When combined with a newly designed "FEEM diagram," relevant pathological findings can be recorded in an objective manner so that diagnosis becomes more precise and uniform and comparison of outcome is possible. It also emphasizes the fact that FEEM has a range of manifestations governed by dynamic interaction between structural defects and herniation. Each clinical entity is a final result of its own disease course (stable, progressive, or regressive FEEM), with a varying degree of communication between the external mass and the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of craniofacial surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


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