Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 158, Issue 9, pp 1813–1819 | Cite as

The role of ICP monitoring in patients with persistent cerebrospinal fluid leak following spinal surgery: a case series

  • Claudia CravenEmail author
  • Ahmed K. Toma
  • Akbar A. Khan
  • Laurence D. Watkins
Clinical Article - Spine



Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak following spinal surgery is a relatively common surgical complication. A disturbance in the underlying CSF dynamics could be the causative factor in a small group of patients with refractory CSF leaks that require multiple surgical repairs and prolonged hospital admission.


A retrospective case series of patients with persistent post spinal surgery CSF leak referred to the hydrocephalus service for continuous intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring. Patients’ notes were reviewed for medical history, ICP data, radiological data, and subsequent management and outcome.


Five patients (two males/three females, mean age, 35.4 years) were referred for ICP monitoring over a 12-month period. These patients had prolonged CSF leak despite multiple repair attempts 252 ± 454 days (mean ± SD). On ICP monitoring, all five patients had abnormal results, with the mean ICP 8.95 ± 4.41 mmHg. Four had abnormal pulse amplitudes, mean 6.15 mmHg ± 1.22 mmHg. All five patients underwent an intervention. Three patients underwent insertion of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts. One patient had venous sinus stent insertion and one patient underwent medical management with acetazolamide. All five of the patients’ CSF leak resolved post intervention. The mean time to resolution of CSF leak post intervention was 10.8  ± 12.9 days.


Abnormal cerebrospinal fluid dynamics could be the underlying factor in patients with a persistent and treatment-refractory CSF leak post spinal surgery. Treatments aimed at lowering ICP may be beneficial in this group of patients. Whether abnormal pressure and dynamics represent a pre-existing abnormality or is induced by spinal surgery should be a subject of further study.


Intracranial pressure Ventriculoperitoneal shunt Cerebrospinal Fluid CSF leak Spinal surgery Dural tear Pseudomeningocele 


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 non-financial 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.

Informed consent

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victor Horsley Department of NeurosurgeryNational Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryQueen SquareUK

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