A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak occurs when CSF is abnormally leaking from the brain's subarachnoid space. This condition occurs when a rupture affects the arachnoid membrane, usually after surgery, trauma or a spinal tap. Approximately 1 per cent of patients will experience a CSF leak associated with a herniated disc (also called a ruptured disc), according to the Steadman Clinic. This can happen if a hole develops when the surgeon removes or looks for the herniated disc. The signs and symptoms of a CSF leak will vary.
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A headache is a common symptom of a CSF leak, according to Discovery Health. This headache is often less severe when the patient is lying down flat and more severe when the patient is in an upright position.
Patients can experience a runny nose when they have a CSF leak, according to Medline Plus. The runny nose may be nasal mucus, but in most cases it is a watery, clear liquid.
Discovery Health states that a CSF leak may cause drainage from the ear or from a spinal or head wound after surgery or trauma. This drainage will be watery and clear.
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