I had a microdiscectomy performed on my L-5 S-1 six weeks ago and after the first 6 days, I had a CSF (spinal fluid) leak. In addition to having major headaches, I have fluid build up around my incinsion. I have been on my back for 35 days hoping the leak would heal itself. How long would it take to allow it to heal by itself before you would think about surgery to go in and repair the leak? And what would be the risk?
Spinal fluid leaks should be treated ASAP, especially if you are having a headache. If you have any fluid leaking from the incision you need to be seen NOW. If you just have a bulge and it is big, it will porbably not go away by itself. The treatment if small is a combination of the following, blood patch, lumbar drainage, and surgery. Lumbar drainage requires being admitted to the hospital for a few days and if it does not work, then surgery. Sometimes surgery is the best bet from the get go. These usually do not go away by themselves.
There are some risks with treatment mostly associated with reoperation and potential injury to the nerves. There is also a chance of persistent leakage - it might come back and require more surgery. These can become very tricky, but usually can be successfully treated.
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