CSF leak

Alternative Names

Intracranial hypotension

Definition of CSF leak

A CSF leak is an escape of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Any tear or hole in the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (dura) can allow the fluid that surrounds those organs to leak.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

Signs and tests

Diagnosis is usually based on your history of injury, surgery, or lumbar puncture.

Treatment

Depending on the cause of the leak, many cases go away on their own after a few days. Complete bed rest for several days is usually recommended. Drinking increased fluids, especially drinks with caffeine, can help slow or stop the leak and may help with headache pain.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook is usually good depending on the cause. Most cases heal by themselves with no lasting symptoms.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/26/2010

Cerebrospinal fluid leak

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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