Cerebral spinal fluid leak or CSF is contained in the dura. Dura is the membrane that incases the spinal cord and brain thus contain the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). CSF leak happens when there is a hole or tears in the dura.
What causes the tear of the dura? Common causes may include spinal or brain surgeries, spinal tap, head injury or placement of tubes use for pain medications or epidural anesthesia. In some cases there is no cause at all for cerebral spinal fluid leak.
Symptoms of Cerebral spinal fluid may include the following – headache which is severe when you are in a sitting position and tends to lessen when you lay down with your head lower than the chest, nausea, change in hearing, facial numbness, runny nose, blurring of vision, tingling of the arms and in rare cases drainage from the ear.
It would be quite hard to really identify since they are a common symptoms too of other health conditions like post traumatic headache and migraine. That is why most cases are missed and diagnose is delayed for as long as a month.
CSF leak symptoms is quite hard to diagnose or identify. Diagnosis of such is often base on the history of lumbar puncture, surgery and injury. Testing might be required which includes X-ray with contrast dye, MRI and injection of a radioisotope in the spinal fluid to see where the leakage is. A careful physical examination and gathering of cerebrospinal fluid leak symptoms of the patient along with the right imaging test can certainly lead doctors to the right diagnosis.
Most cases of CSF leak goes away on its own after several days but there are cases too of spinal leak that needs attention and treatment. CSF leak treatment includes complete rest for several days. The most common symptoms which are headache may be cured through taking pain relievers and drink lots of eater or fluid. If headache last more than a week then blood patch has to be done. This is done to block the whole which causes spinal fluid leak, blood clot in this case can be use to stop the leak. This is the most common method of treating cerebral spinal fluid leak, this usually makes the symptom go away.
Surgery is not necessary to treat this condition but if symptoms of infection happen like chills, fever and mental changes, then antibiotic medication is required.
Depending on its cases the outlook of CSF leak is generally good and besides most cases heals on their own and it has no lasting effect. However if trauma or surgery is the cause, complications may arise. Infections can be very fatal like swelling of the brain.
So when do you call your doctor? If you experience a headache which gets worst when you are in upright position especially if you just suffered head injury, childbirth where you had epidural anesthesia or surgery. Also if you experience a mild head injury which resulted to a headache and you experience clear fluid draining from your ear or nose.
Prevention is always better than cure thus try to prevent cerebral spinal fluid leak. Prevent any head injury by wearing a helmet when riding motorcycle or bicycle to help prevent from head injuries which can lead to CSF leak.