Alternate Names : Intracranial hypotension
A CSF leak is an escape of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
The dura is the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and contains the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF can leak from any hole or tear in the dura.
Causes of a tear in the dura include:
- Certain head, brain, or spinal surgeries
- Head injury
- Placement of tubes for epidural anesthesia or pain medications
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
Sometimes there is no cause.
Pictures & Images
Cerebrospinal fluid leak
Cerebrospinal fluid is the fluid found in and around the central nervous system (CNS) organs, the brain and spinal cord. It protects the brain and spinal cord by acting like a liquid cushion. The fluid allows the organs to be buoyant protecting them from blows or other trauma. Inside the skull the cerebrospinal fluid is contained by the dura which covers the brain. Any trauma or tear in the dura can allow the fluid to leak out creating an emergency situation.
Review Date : 9/22/2008
Reviewed By : 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.