Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 158, Issue 2, pp 273–278 | Cite as

Treatment strategy for cerebral hypotension caused by spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leaks

  • Insa JanssenEmail author
  • Jens Gempt
  • Julia Gerhardt
  • Bernhard Meyer
  • Yu-Mi Ryang
Clinical Article - Spine



Spontaneous spinal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks are rare (5 per 100,000 per year). Treatment generally consists of conservative therapy or interventional therapy with epidural blood patching. Surgical treatment is conducted rarely, usually in cases when conservative or interventional treatment has failed. The aim of our case series was to assess the clinical outcome after surgery.


Our clinical database was reviewed for patients with spontaneous spinal CSF leaks who underwent surgical exploration between 2010 and 2013. Etiology, symptoms, preoperative imaging, type of required surgical method, intraoperative findings, and clinical outcome were reported.


We identified five patients with a mean age of 62 years with spontaneous spinal CSF leaks who were treated surgically. Two patients received surgery after failure of interventional treatment. The origin of the CSF leak could be identified intraoperatively in three cases. Surgical technique in all cases consisted of an interlaminar fenestration or hemilaminectomy and a complete foraminotomy to explore the thecal sack and the exiting nerve roots and identify the CSF leak. After surgery, the preoperative symptoms improved in all patients. In one case, there was a relapse after 4 weeks.


Preoperative identification of a CSF leak with MRI was positive in only one case. In all other cases, a post-myelography CT had to be performed. In all cases, the preoperative symptoms improved after surgery. Surgical treatment is an effective treatment of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leaks in cases of refractory symptoms after failed conservative or interventional treatment.


Intracranial hypotension CSF leak Epidural blood patching Orthostatic headache Spinal meningeal cysts Naked nerve roots 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this research.

Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or nonfinancial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurosurgery, Klinikum rechts der IsarTechnical University MunichMunichGermany

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