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Cerebrospinal fluid leak

Cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF) is an uncommon condition. It occurs when the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions and protects the brain leaks into the nasal cavity. The leakage can be caused in some patients when the bone that separates the brain cavity from the sinonasal cavity becomes thin and weakened. When this happens, the patient may experience clear fluid draining from one nostril and chronic headaches. If left untreated bacteria from the nose can enter the cranial cavity at the leak site and cause a serious infection called meningitis.

Cerebrospinal fluid leak: What you need to know

  • To diagnose a CSF leak, a specialist will perform an examination and may analyze the nasal fluid. If a CSF is suspected, imaging such as a CT scan or MRI may be done to determine the location and severity of the leak.
  • Surgery is often the best treatment option. At UF Health Jacksonville, a specially trained otolaryngologist will perform the surgery to stop the CSF leak and prevent serious infection.
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery, a minimally invasive technique, has replaced the practice of brain surgery to repair the leak.
  • Our specialists are experienced with using endoscopic surgery. These techniques have improved treatment rates, avoided brain surgery, reduced risks and decreased pain and suffering for patients.

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