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Why do cerebrospinal fluid leaks get misdiagnosed?

Cerebrospinal fluid fills spaces in between your brain, spinal cord and the bones surrounding it. It acts as a cushion to help reduce impact and to provide nutrients to these crucial components of the body.

However, in certain traumatic accidents, it is possible for the membrane holding this fluid in place to tear. This can cause the fluid to leak, which can lead to a medical emergency.

How do you detect cerebrospinal fluid leaks?

Unfortunately, in many cases, doctors may actually misdiagnose this crucial injury. Many will mistake it for migraine headaches, normal drainage or even a sinus infection. Johns Hopkins discusses the test used to detect leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. It is a simple test that checks for a protein found almost exclusively in the cerebrospinal fluid. If present, a doctor may suggest further imaging tests to locate the rupture.

However, many doctors may end up delaying or even misdiagnosing this ailment for the above reasons. Because they think it is a common malady, they do not even order the test to check for cerebrospinal fluid.

The importance of cerebrospinal fluid

This fluid removes toxic waste from the spinal cord and the brain while simultaneously providing it with needed nutrients. A brain without the adequate amount of fluid could actually end up starving due to the lack of nutrients, or suffering from poison without any of the toxins getting removed from the system.

It can also lead to the possibility of a catastrophic brain infection which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death of brain tissue, or death of the patient. This is why it is crucial for these leaks to get an immediate and correct identification.

If you or a loved one has suffered long-term consequences due to a medical misdiagnosis, it’s important to understand your options under the law. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your case is a good first step.