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CSF Leak

CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) is a watery fluid that continually circulates through your brain’s hollow cavities (ventricles) and around the surface of your brain and spinal cord, transferring nutrients and cushioning these delicate structures. A CSF leak occurs when the cerebrospinal fluid leaks through a tear or hole in the dura, the outermost layer of membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. 

What You Need to Know

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  • The dura can be injured or punctured by a head injury, a surgical procedure on a sinus, brain or spine or any lumbar puncture, including a spinal tap, spinal anesthesia or myelogram

  • Spontaneous CSF leaks can occur due to increased intracranial pressure, as can happen with hydrocephalus, a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. Other times, leaks happen on their own, for reasons that aren’t clear.

  • Symptoms may include headache, visual disturbances, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and nasal discharge.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of a CSF leak is important to prevent meningitis, an infection of the meninges.

Patient Resources

Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Treatment of a CSF Leak?


Our Treatments

Once a CSF leak is diagnosed, prompt treatment with endonasal endoscopic surgery or other procedure can repair the tear in the membrane.

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Maryland Patients

Thank you for your interest in the Cerebral Fluid Center at Johns Hopkins. Learn how to refer a patient.

Adult Neurology: 410-955-9441
Pediatric Neurology: 410-955-4259
Adult Neurosurgery: 410-955-6406
Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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