Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak (CSF Leak)

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid present in and around the spinal cord and brain. It is produced by a region of the brain called the choroid plexus. Normally, about 150 mL of CSF circulates within the brain in cavities called ventricles.

Cerebrospinal fluid functions to:

  • cushion the spinal cord and brain, protecting them against injury
  • provides nutrients and carries away waste products into the blood stream
  • maintains a constant pressure

Sometimes, this fluid abnormally accumulates creating pressure on the brain and leading to brain damage, a condition known as hydrocephalus.

A cerebrospinal fluid examination is helpful in diagnosing a number of diseases such as meningitis, encephalitis and the presence of hemorrhage. In order to obtain a sample of CSF, your doctor performs a procedure known as a spinal tap, where a needle is inserted in your lower spine, and the sample of CNS is removed and examined. Abnormal findings include a cloudy appearance, high protein levels, reduced glucose levels, and the presence of blood or organisms.

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