Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Leak is a serious medical condition caused by a tear or hole in the membranes surrounding the brain. This can cause cerebrospinal clear fluid to escape. Since the cerebrospinal fluid cushions the brain and spinal cord, a leakage can cause the brain to sag into the skull. This causes painful headaches and a clear, watery drainage that may leak through the ear or nose.
Patients who suffer from CSF Leak often suffer from headaches that get worse when upright but improve while lying down. This positional headache typically starts within 15 minutes of being upright and fades after 15 minutes of lying down. The headache usually starts at the back of the head and is felt like a pulling sensation from the head to the neck. Some other patients feel the headache all over the head.
Other symptoms include:
- Vision changes
- Hearing loss
- Drainage down the back of the throat
- Salty taste in mouth
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Ringing in the ears
- Facial pain or numbness
CSF Leak affects 5 in 100,000 people every year. Leaks can be caused spontaneously or as a result of head injury, epidural injections, spinal surgery or tumor. Spontaneous CSF Leak occurs most often during a patient’s early 40s, according to the CSF Leak Association. Women are twice as likely as men to develop CSF Leak.
Some cases of CSF Leak may heal on its own, but others require surgical repair. Since a CSF Leak can be difficult to detect, it is important to have an expert evaluate you to avoid a misdiagnosis. Before your visit, be sure to write down any questions you might have. If possible, bring someone to help you remember questions or write down instructions from Dr. Shuaib.
Diagnosing a CSF Leak often begins with a physical exam to observe if the drainage increases when leaning forward. If fluid can be collected, it will be sent for testing to ensure it is in fact CSF. A CT scan or MRI can identify the exact location of the leak.
If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib at (956) 362-8125. immediately as CSF Leaks can lead to meningitis or neurologic consequences.
Dr. Stefan Shuaib is one of the top head and neck surgeons in Texas and provides on-site diagnosis and treatment in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are concerned about any changes or symptoms you have been experiencing, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib by calling (956) 362-8125.