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The dangers of a cerebrospinal fluid leak misdiagnosis

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2021 | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

A healthy central nervous system, which primarily includes your brain and spinal cord, is vital for everything you do. If you suffer a central nervous system injury or develop an illness that affects your brain or spinal cord, your life may never be the same again. You may also be at risk of serious complications, including death.

Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear substance that provides nutrients and support to your brain and spinal cord. This fluid also removes potentially toxic waste. Consequently, maintaining a full supply of cerebrospinal fluid is critical for having a healthy nervous system.

Cerebrospinal fluid leaks

Your cerebrospinal fluid stays in place thanks to a thin membrane. This membrane may break during a slip-and-fall accident, car crash or workplace accident. If you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, you may have a runny nose or drainage from your ears. You may also experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches, especially ones that worsen when you stand or sit upright
  • Visual impairments
  • Tinnitus
  • Light and sound sensitivities
  • Muscular pain in your upper body
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Balance difficulties

Diagnostic complications

Doctors frequently misdiagnose cerebrospinal fluid leaks, believing them to be sinus infections, migraine headaches or other maladies. Still, physicians have a variety of diagnostic tools to differentiate between cerebrospinal fluid leaks and other conditions. These include MRIs, CT scans, lumbar punctures, myelography and cisternography.

Health risks

Ongoing pain is the most common health risk that comes from a misdiagnosed cerebrospinal fluid leak. Nevertheless, with certain types of leaks, you may be in danger of developing meningitis or another conceivably deadly brain infection.

After your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment, you should usually begin to feel better. Ultimately, if your symptoms persist, you may have to pursue a second or third opinion to determine whether you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak.