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CSF Leak

What Is CSF?

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.

How Do CSF Malpractice Cases Play Out?


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.

How Can You Make Sure There Is No CSF Leak?

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
  • Nausea
  • Neck stiffness
  • Runny nose
  • Drainage out of your ear

You can also test for a CSF leak:

  • CT scan or MRI
  • Glucose test
  • Radioisotope

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.

What Are The Complications CSF Leak?

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.

What Is a CSF Leak Case Worth?

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.

Bringing a Claim for Malpractice


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

Client Reviews
They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa