What Is a CSF Leak?
Cerebrospinal fluid can leak through a tear in the dura, the dense tissue that surrounds the brain and spine. The tear can result from:
- A traumatic injury
- Placement of an epidural catheter for childbirth or pain management
- Rubbing against a spinal disc or arthritic facet joint
Often, there is no known cause.
The tear and resulting leak of cerebrospinal fluid can cause lower-than-normal pressure in the protective cushion of fluid around the brain and spinal cord. This is called intracranial hypotension. The low pressure leads to chronic headaches and other debilitating symptoms including:
- Severe headaches, especially when upright
- New persistent headaches that occur daily
- Double or blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears or hearing loss
- Swallowing difficulties
- Facial pain
If You Experience These Symptoms
Because these symptoms may indicate a variety of neurological concerns, CSF leaks are often misdiagnosed. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have not found relief through standard medical treatments, consider evaluation for a spinal CSF leak.
Seek Care from a Neuroradiologist
Duke neuroradiologists specialize in using high-resolution CT, MRI, and CT fluoroscopic imaging to diagnose and treat CSF leaks and other conditions that affect the brain, spine, head, and neck.