What is a CSF Leak?

`A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak is a medical condition categorized by a tear or opening in the membranes that surround the brain or spinal cord, which allows the clear fluid that surrounds these body parts to escape. Leaks can develop for a number of different reasons, some of which are harder to diagnose than others, but once you understand where the leak is and what caused it, treatment is usually very successful. Below, we take a closer look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

Causes of CSF Leak

Causes of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) leaks include:

  • Infection
  • An epidural injection
  • An anesthetic injection
  • A lumbar puncture
  • Brain tumors
  • Surgery on or around the base of the skull or spine
  • Structural abnormalities of the skull that have been present from birth
  • Increased pressure in the brain from conditions such as hydrocephalus

Spontaneous CSF leaks are associated with developmental defects of the skull bones that cause the membranes (meninges) to protrude. An opening in the membranes makes the nervous system more susceptible to infection.

When left untreated, 25 to 50 percent of CSF leaks lead to meningitis.

Symptoms of CSF Leak 

Symptoms of a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak can include:

  1. Headache, which feels worse when sitting up or standing and better when lying down; may come on gradually or suddenly:
  2. Vision changes (blurred vision, double vision, visual field changes)
  3. Hearing changes/ringing in ears
  4. Sensitivity to light
  5. Sensitivity to sound
  6. Balance problems
  7. Neck stiffness and pain
  8. Nausea and vomiting
  9. Pain between the shoulder blades
  10. Arm pain

In addition to these symptoms, other symptoms unique to cranial CSF leaks include:

  • Clear, watery drainage usually from only one side of the nose or one ear when tilting the head forward
  • Salty or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Drainage down the back of the throat
  • Loss of smell

Treatment of CSF Leak 

Spinal CSF leak is a critical disorder and requires a treatment that can cure this disease completely. Present treatments, unfortunately, haven’t proven to be effective and often provide only temporary relief to the patients. Patients also go for various repetitive treatments such as blood patches to minimize the symptoms, sometimes without providing any long-lasting results.

Stem cell therapy, on the other hand, has delivered great relief from the immense pain. It’s a natural healing process that is used to treat the Spinal CSF. The stem cells improve the blood flow and empower the normal mending procedure to make a fibrin fix that will obstruct the hole. This offers patients an enduring, painless outcome.