What is CSF? This abbreviation stands for cerebrospinal fluid. CSF is a clear colorless fluid in the spine and the brain. It is produced by our choroid plexus in the ventricles of our brains. We produce the stuff quickly, and it gets reabsorbed just as quickly. So we might produce 500 ml of CSF a day but we only have around 150 ml in our body at any given time.
Most of the malpractice cases we have seen involving a CSF leak during spinal surgery, usually surgery to repair a herniated disc or during endoscopic sinus surgery. These tears do happen during surgery, typically in the absence of negligence. It happens.
Where the negligence comes in is the failure to identify the problem head on or to inadequately repair damage that is causing the spinal fluid to leak.
The plaintiffs' lawyers in these cases are going to argue that doctors violated the standard of care by failing to identify and repair the tear during the surgery. Some doctors choose to let the tear mend on its own. Is this a good idea?
There is no hard and fast answers. It depends on a variety of factors. It is true that these cerebrospinal fluid leaks quite often seal on their own without complication.
But there are some leaks that a doctor knows or should know that have a real risk of getting out of hand and the standard of care requires them to make reasonable calls.
First, there are symptoms of a CSF leak:
- A headache. A CSF leak induced headache is going to get a lot better if you are lying down but will rear its head if you are sitting or standing
- Patient complains of light sensitivity
- Neck stiffness
- Runny nose
- Drainage out of your ear
You can also test for a CSF leak:
- CT scan or MRI
- Glucose test
No one disagrees these tests may catch a CSF leak. The question is individual negligence cases boils down to what the doctor should have suspected and what should have been done about that suspicion.
Again, most CSF leaks resolve on their own. But when they don't, the injuries are awful. The leak can lead to meningitis and other severe and life-threatening complications, most notably, the swelling of the patient's brain.
Obviously, the value of the case depends on just how serious the injuries are. One study suggests that the average cerebrospinal fluid leak case leads to an average verdict of $1.1 million and an average out-of-court settlement of $966,887.
Our lawyers handles serious injury medical malpractice cases. Our practice is focused in Maryland. But we handle CSF leak injury and other catastrophic injury and wrongful death medical mistake cases around the country. So there is a real chance we can help you no matter where in the country you are.
To get our thoughts on your claim, it costs nothing. We will be more than happy to discuss it with you at no charge and with no obligation. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation here.General Medical Malpractice Information
- Maryland Malpractice Overview: what to expect
- Cauda Equina Syndrome: compression on the spinal nerve roots, an injury that often leads to misdiagnosis lawsuit
- Meningitis Related Malpractice Suits
- Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions
- Learn More About Hospital Malpractice