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CSF Leakage (Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leakage): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and acts as a protective cushion. It is held in place by a three-layer membrane, and a CSF leak occurs when the outermost layer (the dura) has an opening, allowing some of the fluid to escape.

What is a Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak?

CSF leak falls into two categories, cranial and spinal CSF leak, each with unique signs, causes, and treatments. Spinal CSF leakage can occur anywhere along the spinal column. In contrast, intracranial her CSF leakage occurs in the skull.

a headache Cranial cerebrospinal fluid leak, which is the main symptom of spinal fluid leak, causes clear fluid oozing from the nose and ears. Conservative treatment, such as bed rest, may improve certain of her CSF leaks. Many CSF leaks require surgery to stop the leak or a patch to plug the hole.

What Causes CSF Leakage?

In some cases, the source of the leak may not be known. Doctors call this her spontaneous CSF leak. Still, there’s a reason liquids can leak. they are:

Spinal cord CSF leakage can occur due to:

  1. Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  2. head/spine injury
  3. previous surgery on the spine
  4. osteophytes along the spine
  5. Epidural anesthesia of the spine to reduce pain, such as during labor
  6. CSF-venous fistulas (abnormal connection between dura mater and vein)
  7. Spinal nerve root abnormalities due to dural abnormalities

Cranial CSF leakage can occur due to:

  1. head injury
  2. increased intracranial pressure
  3. Shunt not working properly
  4. inner ear malformation

CSF leaks can occur as a result of very minor events.

  • exercise
  • sneeze
  • straining for defecation
  • stretch
  • heavy lifting
  • cough
  • fall

What are the signs and symptoms of a CSF leak?

As previously mentioned, the symptoms of spinal and cranial CSF leakage differ.

If spinal cord CSF leakage occurs, the body may show the following signs:

  1. A headache that is worse when standing or sitting and lessens or disappears when lying down.
  2. Strenuous exercise, such as coughing or sneezing, aggravates the headache.
  3. Rarely, a headache may begin suddenly.it is called thunderclap headache.

Other symptoms of spinal cord CSF leakage are:

  1. neck and shoulder pain
  2. tinnitus
  3. changes in hearing
  4. wobble
  5. nausea or vomiting
  6. Changes in mental state, vision, or behavior
  7. lack of sense of smell
  8. Blurred, double vision, or altered vision
  9. sensitivity to light and sound
  10. problem of balance
  11. neck discomfort and stiffness
  12. shoulder and arm pain

If you have a cranial spinal fluid leak, your body may show signs such as:

  1. clear discharge from the nose or ears
  2. hearing loss
  3. have a metallic taste in the mouth
  4. meningitis

Who is most likely to have a CSF leak?

Women are more likely to develop CSF leakage. It can also affect people who:

  • Have had surgery on or around the spine in the past
  • obesity
  • obstructive sleep apnea or high blood pressure
  • had a head injury in the past
  • Tumors near the base of the skull
  • Inner ear or skull base malformations

What is the diagnostic procedure for CSF leakage?

If you notice any of the above symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. Your health care provider may do a physical examination and check your medical history.

Your doctor may do a nasal endoscopy to get a clearer picture of potential problems. Your doctor may ask you to bend over to check for a runny nose. If there is waste water, a sample is taken for lab testing. Your ears will also be examined, looking for CSF leaks.

To check for brain or spinal cord problems, your doctor may request tests such as: MRI, CT scanmyelography (spine-related imaging techniques), cysternography (spine and brain imaging procedures)

What complications can CSF leakage cause?

If CSF leakage is not treated, it can lead to conditions such as meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain. Her CSF leakage through a hole or rupture of the dura can lead to a condition called tension pneumocephalus.

Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid can sometimes be misidentified Sinusitis, Migraine, or other headaches. Therefore, you should seek medical attention as soon as symptoms appear.

What are the treatment options for CSF leakage?

Treatment options depend on where the leak occurred and what caused it. Your doctor may advise a first course of treatment. a few days of bed rest, hydration Raise the head end of the bed. If this course fails, your doctor may suggest surgery to correct the leak.

Cerebrospinal fluid leak in the head:

If a CSF leak occurs in the brain, transnasal endoscopy may solve the problem. Doctors may use several medical devices and materials, such as artificial implants and medical adhesives. The surgeon may also use body fat, muscle, or mucosal lining, bone cement, or tissue flaps from many locations to close the hole in the dura.

Doctors may also perform a lumbar drain in the lower back to relieve pressure if there is excessive fluid buildup in the brain.

Cerebrospinal fluid leak in the spine:

Doctors can use the following treatments to stop spinal cord leaks:

  1. Epidural blood patch: A treatment that is produced by injecting your own blood into the spinal cord blood clot stop the leak
  2. Sealant: Certain adhesives can be applied alone or in combination with blood as described above to seal the hole and stop the cerebrospinal fluid from leaking.
  3. surgery: Surgery is only done when all other treatments have failed and the exact location of the leak is known. Surgery may require closure of the CSF leak with sutures or a fat or muscle graft patch. I have.
  4. Transvenous embolization. This procedure is a minimally invasive, catheter-based approach for treating CSF venous fistulas. Glue is used to close the defective vein from the inside.

What measures should be taken during the recovery period?

Your doctor will advise you to follow these steps for better recovery:

  • avoid lifting heavy objects
  • don’t blow your nose
  • avoid using straws
  • Keep your back straight when moving
  • Use stool softeners to avoid straining during bowel movements
  • Do not bend, stretch, lift or twist
  • Keep your mouth open when you cough or sneeze to relieve pressure.


Cerebrospinal fluid leakage is rare but can cause severe or unpleasant symptoms. Advances in modern medicine and technology have made it easier and faster for medical professionals to identify and treat this problem. The outlook for this disease is very bright. This is because providers are now able to treat this condition more effectively than before.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is cerebrospinal fluid leakage preventable?

In most people, cerebrospinal fluid leakage cannot be prevented. However, wearing safety gear and a helmet can prevent injuries that can lead to CSF ​​leaks.

Why is double vision a symptom of a CSF leak?

Downward pressure on the brain causes problems with the nerves that feed the eye. This causes double vision and blurred vision.

https://healthlibrary.askapollo.com/csf-leak-cerebrospinal-fluid-leak-causes-symptoms-and-treatment/ CSF Leakage (Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leakage): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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