Surgical treatment of spontaneous spinal cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

C. O. Maher, F. B. Meyer, B. Mokri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Spontaneous spinal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks are an increasingly recognized cause of intracranial hypotension. In this report the authors review the indications for surgery, surgical techniques, and surgery-related outcomes for these lesions. The major presenting symptoms include postural headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diplopia. Often, there is no history of traumatic injury. The most common cranial magnetic resonance (MR) imaging features include pachymeningeal gadolinium enhancement and sagging of the brain. On spinal MR images, diverticula are frequently noted. In cases in which symptoms are severe and refractory to less invasive measures, surgical intervention is indicated. Tears in the dura or leaking diverticula that are identified as the sources of the CSF leak often can be ligated or repaired. When a source of CSF egress is not found intraoperatively, packing the epidural space with blood-soaked Gelfoam or muscle at the appropriate level can lead to relief of symptoms. Occasionally the dural defect is large, irregular, or has attenuated borders that may not be possible to repair with sutures. These may be repaired by packing the defect with muscle or blood-soaked Gelfoam. Indications for and outcomes of surgery in patients with this condition will become more defined as surgeons gain experience with these procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e7
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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