Spinal Fluid Leak After Back Surgery

Spinal fluid leak or Cerebral Spinal Fluid leak can happen for a lot of reasons but most individuals who are affected with this are those that suffers back pain who choose the option to go for surgical procedure as part of their treatment plan. This article actually focuses in spinal fluid leak due to back surgery.

What is Spinal Fluid Leak?

Spinal fluid leak or CSF leak occurs if the membrane which enclosed the spinal fluid around the central nervous system is punctured. The membrane is quite tough but it can be damaged during surgery for chronic back pain. CSF is the one that protects and insulates the brain from all kinds of harm. To be exact the brain actually floats in CSF thus when leak happens, the brain can sink down in the skull placing pressure in neurological tissues. CSF is being produced daily but if there is a leak, the CSF that is produce may not be enough to compensate what is lost which may result to serious symptoms.

Symptoms of Spinal Fluid Leak

Symptoms vary from one individual. It depends on the severity of the leak. One may experience one of the symptoms or may experience all of the symptoms which includes sensory impairments, weakness or numbness in muscles of the face; nausea, vertigo and dizziness; and severe headache when in upright position and decrease pain when reclining. In rare instances stroke or even death occurs.

Spinal Fluid Leak After Back Surgery

Spinal fluid leak is quite common to back pain sufferers who undergo back surgery or epidural injections. In delivering the medications through epidural injections, the needle sometimes punctures the dura membrane. The puncture may heal on its own in a few days but there are cases where it won’t heal that fast and may develop to other serious condition.

Another common cause of spinal fluid leak is spinal surgery. Whenever the spine is under surgical procedure, the risk of damaging the membrane is always present even if it is minimally invasive still leaks are common complications. Most cases may heal on their own but there are some cases where it might require another surgery to correct it.

Fortunately one study showed that membrane tears can be managed through placement of lumbar cerebrospinal fluid leak shunt during the procedure or after or can be managed by observation alone (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2008).