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    Spinal fluid leak after surgery
    tanyaNpain posted:
    Hi! I recently had surgery to repair a herniated disc at L5-S1. My doctor sliced open the lining of my spinal cord, resulting in 3 more operations to stop my spinal fluid from leaking out. He told me that it was an "incidental tear" (not his fault, of course) and that it happens all the time - very common, according to him. The leaks have been repaired, thanks to a different surgeon, but I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this? Thanks!!

  • PS - I'm proof that you can't go into back surgery thinking that you'll be relieved of pain afterwards - my pain is no better than it was before Edward Scissorhands cut me up! Make sure you have a spine specialist and have exhausted all other options before back surgery!!!
  • Reply
    nicoleh66 responded:
    Good Morning, I, two weeks ago, had surgery on L5, S1 Lumbar Microdiscectomy. The Neurosurgeon removed 3 herniated pieces, one quite large that were under the disc space. He said that the level of herniation was worse than he is used to seeing and he has been practicing for many years. I was discharged the following day(Tues)- still having complete numbness of my left foot,however the thickness of numbness seemed less and I could now stand for my foot to be touched but with my leg numbness and charlie horse type muscle spasms gone. I proceeded to do well at home until Fri morning when I noticed discolored slightly bloody discharge, I called the surgeon and he had me come into his office to take a look. He said that there was a pocket of built up fluid that just escaped from the glued incision, he sent me home. Later that day and Sat it continued to drain quite a bit, and I started with a headache. Sat. night a fluid pouch developed and later "burst" releasing clear fluid and maintaining a trickle light a dripping faucet. Sunday morning I had such severe head pain to where I couldn't sit up. I recognized this as a spinal fluid leak with spinal headache (being a nurse) and having this happen before after a mylogram. I called the nueorsurgeon told him my observations and symptoms and he agreed with me that this sounded like a spinal leak/headache and he had me go directly to the hospital and did a direct admit to the hospital and met me there and said we would do surgery the next morning vs waiting for the headache to subside and the leak to "clot" itself. So monday morning, a wk after the first surgery he went in through the same incision and found the leak under the bone and repaired it. I had to lie flat for three days before proceeding to get up, and on the 3rd day upon getting up I started feeling similar pressure and they had me lie flat one additional day. I was released then on Friday, 4 days after the 2nd surgery. The problem now is my legs continue to jerk uncontrollably and my charlie horse spasm is back in my leg and my foot is just as numb as before the first surgery and is now again painful, though numb to the point I cannot again stand to touch it. The pain is much more severe following this 2nd surgery, as after the first one I didn't really have that much. After the first surgery I woke up sore in recovery where with the second surgery I woke up bawling and it took them three hours to get my pain under control.
    I'm leary about suing or consulting an attorney, as I did think the doctor was good. But why didn't he notice the tear at the time it happened? I know it was a risk that the Anesthesiologist pointed out to me, but he said the risk of it was 1 in 100,000.
    Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Maybe there is even attorneys on this site watching these posts.
    bj1208 replied to nicoleh66's response:
    hi nicoleh66 - welcome to the support group -

    I am so sorry you have had to endure all this - it just doesn't seem right -

    oh, I do not believe that attorney's review the boards looking for cases - I would stay away from any that do as I would consider them to be kinda like "ambulance chasers'.

    at this point, I would request all your records from this doc - make sure you get all written notes and any MRI's/CT Scans/Myelograms/Discograms/Nerve Conduction Tests etc.

    Make an appointment with an Orthopedic Spine Specialist and have them review what was done - they may order current tests to be done - this way you will know what your options are. And if there is something what went wrong then you can decide and locate an attorney for proper handling -

    please let us know what happens - take care - Joy~~
    dholland123 replied to nicoleh66's response:
    am going through the same thing bad headaches and slow drip had surgery on the 5th and was released the next day...feel good with the leg pain little numbness bad head aches and feel wornout.. after reading your blog im saddend dont want to go through the same thing... am 36 and i hav a 15yearold and a 8 yrold helping me do things well im going bak for round two aint good... hope u feel better..
    jls826 replied to nicoleh66's response:
    Tanya, I agree with most of the other posts. If he is a surgeon with Spine Specialists in his practice, he should've referred you to one of them. Secondly, if your leak was in the same area of your surgery, the surgeon would've noticed that right away and could've repaied it then and had you on bedrest for it to heal.

    I had a similar surgery on July 19th and had a tear. The crazy part is that as soon as I knew that was a possible complication, I knew i would have that. Of course, I didn't say that but to 1 friend. Sure enough I had a tear during surgery.

    It should be noted as others had that often times the herniated discis pressing so much against the nerves and dura membrane that when the herniated portion alone is removed a leak occurs due to the pressure against it for so long with the herniation. It's unlikely (I hope) that it was sliced open during surgery, because if that was the case they would've noticed it.

    While I had a tear during surgery and it was repaired while I was still in surgery, I'm still having issues. After seeing a neuro (my surgeon was also and ortho, but a spine specialist) last week and having yet more MRIs, the it was discovered although the tear from surgery is still sealed and not leaking, I have leaking elsewhere, not in my lumbar region. So, it's completely unrelated to the surgery.

    Hope you feel better.
    tarawishfull replied to jls826's response:
    Hi! I went in to receive epidural shots for my back and the doctor punctured my spine... I have never been the same. He let me leave the office instead of fixing the leak. I was unaware of what was going on they gave me pain medication in the hospital. I went home and later had to call the dr on duty who told me I shouldnt call go to the er because they were unable to handle blood patches (spinal leaks). I was in so much pain unable to walk. this was friday it was monday before they could see me to get me in for the blood patch. I have nerve damage all over my body numbness unable to tolerate cold pain in my head my eyes my arms and hands muscles twitch feel like i am being stabbed in my back.... i could go on and on... do others have this same reaction from spinal punctures? i have been thru so much... i am tired all of the time they say i have fibromyalgia now....
    IsItJustMe24 responded:
    Hi I am 24 years old and just went through this same surgery for a herniated disc at L5-S1. Before getting the surgery they decided I needed it when I woke up one day feeling sore in my legs, but the end of the day having pain shooting from my back down my left leg, the pain was so bad I couldn't sit for hours, tried to go to ER to find out what was wrong but they just sent me back home with an Ibuprofen. Next day woke up with loss of feeling in my left leg still having pain shooting though. After MRI they noticed I had a bad herniation, was told without surgery I will most likely be paralyzed on the left side in less then 6 months, the only option they had was surgery so on 11-11-11 i had surgry, bout 4 days after being returned home I called doctor because I was now having pain no longer in my leg but shooting down my spine, lost feeling in my butt, and female area, was no longer able to control my bladder muscle to pee even though I needed to and was getting horrible nothing like I ever had before headaches of course at first surgeon when I call him says it has nothing to do with the surgery but few days latter I grow more concern cause these where not headaches felt like my brain was gonna pop out of every opening of my head, but if I laid down it was instantly gone til I sat up or stood up again. After fighting with doctors, an MRI was done and I had leaked a 2 in diameter of spinal fluid from the first surgery so had to go back in on 11-23-11 to have that repaired, I still have some probleys like numbness of most my left leg they say SHOULD go away but could take months or a year. But besides that I do have to say I FEEL much better then my before the first surgey might still ahve problems but I can sit down now
    IsItJustMe24 replied to grampaphil's response:
    With my spinal leakage when they went in to repair I was put on bed rest in hospital for 5 days, had to lay completely down, was not even able to lift my head off the pillow (sucked tryin to eat during these days) I ended up with an infection also in my back but they couldn't ever figure out what the infection was exactly but just i had one because its at the spinal line they still have concern even though its not showing what it is, So I have to take antibiotics for the next 10 weeks. and get checked regularly. besides the few complications I had after the first I still think it was worth it but Its only been a month from the 1st surgery. so time will tell
    chappy8it replied to IsItJustMe24's response:
    Hi,I am a 53 yr old male Had surgery 9/29/2010. Dr hit the durasac 3 times. I only had periodic numbness in both legs prior to surgery but now I am left with permanent numbess in my left leg and foot.I have no bladder sensation and have had to cath myself ever since surgery. Rectum and prostate are also numb. I have to take more pain meds than before surgery and also Gabapentin (nerve pain med) to control the periodic pains that I get through out my lower half. I had to wait a week befor getting back into the operating room for the surgion to make repairs. The next appointment he said that I should have a spinal fusion at the L5/S1 level. I rejected that offer needless to say. After seeing a Urologist, & Neurologist I was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The surgion their told me that any more surgery would not fix what the other surgion had done to me. Be well advised people... get more than one opinion. My (prior) surgion is a well known surgion. But even that did not prevent the mishaps and bad out come. Prior to surgery I went thru a extensive core strenghtening program (Physicians Neck & Back Clinic) It helped quite a lot but I still was not out of pain and from time to time I would not beable to move my legs at all. 1 year after surgry I went back again to PN&BC, It has help much more with the pain and functioning... being able to walk more than a hundred feet or so.. now I can make it around the block. Though it has not done anything for the numbness, but I can move around much better. I will have to focus on keeping a work out routine.. 1- 2 times / week for about 20 minutes each time.. well worth the effort. Haven't found a attorney that will take my case.. pretty much so far it's so sad, to bad.
    Cas40 responded:
    Im so sorry that you are in pain but I do understand what you are dealing with. I have had 4 major back surgeries and have had a 2 level fusion, L4, L5, S1 and have had hardware put in and I live in terrible pain 24/7. I used Dr. Jack Zigler from Texas Back Institute in Plano and after he performed all the surgeries, he told me that there was nothing else that he could do for me and that I needed to see a pain management Dr so for the past 2 1/2 years or so I have been seeing a pain management Dr and he turned me into a drug addict by increasing my medications each month and never taking anything away from me. I was taking 4 narcotics daily and taking about 14 pills a day to help with my pain, but it never helped with the pain. I checked myself into a rehab to get off of the medications and have now been clean for a little over a month and I am doing ok, but I hurt so bad. I now have my guard up on going to a Dr for help because I think that they will put me in harms way for the almighty dollar. That seems to be what its all about is the money, not the patient. I am reaching out to anyone that can help me without medication of course.........thank you
    bj1208 replied to Cas40's response:
    Hi Cas40

    I just wanted to let you know that WEBMD guidelines prohibits us from listing personal information as in hospital names, physician names etc., especially listing negative remarks as WEBMD may pull your post.

    Instead we refer member to the search engine at the top of this page: DOCTORS - they can put in all the information needed to search for specific spine specialist and/or pain management physicians in their area.

    as for your problems with physicians etc., it's beneficial that you see either an Orthopedic Spine Specialist or Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist for another opinion - I would get several - and as for pain management see if there is a PHYSIATRIST Pain Management clinic around - here's site regarding what they do as they do go deeper into pain management control more so than regular pain clinics - I go to one and since previous treatments from other pain clinics did not work they will not even consider trying those - they are not out to get the $$ that other ones may.

    as stated earlier in post there is the search engine at the top of this page and you can put in the information needed to seek out better physicians.

    I hope that you can find the relief you need. keep us posted - take care - Joy
    Rumplemeister responded:
    Hi tanyaNpain! It looks like you've been introduced to the wonderful world of back pain, back surgery, and last but not least, neurosurgeons. Yipee! I've been interfacing with all these different facets of the back pain management world for over 10 years now. My neurosurgeon "knicked" my spinal cord during an unsuccessful L4-L5 Laminectomy. I was laid flat up in the hospital for 4 days afterwards. I have NOT had any additional surgery since the first and would recommend against it for anyone. I've found that many (most) neurosurgeons are arrogant towards their patients. I've endured the OxyContin hysteria of the early 2000's, my PCP/Pain Mgmt Physician, who was a compassionate caring doctor, retired so he could spend more time with his children, then I had the remaining PCP's in the group practice refuse to take me on because I was a chronic pain patient. The last 6-7 years I've been blessed to have had 2 trusting and compassionate doctors help me. There are so many "professionals" in the field of pain management (physical therapy, radiology, neurosurgery, neurology, and pain management/PCPs) who all believe that if You or Me have moderate to severe chronic pain, especially back pain, then there is something WRONG with us. I've just had to work through all these type of people until I found a doctor(s) who wasn't so full of himself and was someone I could build a mutually trusting and respectful relationship with. I know there are drug abusers out there that actually recovered from their bout with chronic pain but wanted to keep getting high off of perscription pain meds. But I am a highly (no pun intended, well maybe) documented, MRIed, nerve conduction tested and approved long-term chronic pain patient. It was so funny when in the early years going from doctor to doctor I had to let each new pain mgmt MD do their own tests and studies. And every time they would say, "Wow, you really are in pain!" Duh! I've had just about every different kind a pain medication given to me by various PMPs. That's my new acronym for pain management physicians. Some like the fentanyl pain patch and oxymorphone nearly killed me with allergic reactions. No one knows your body better than you! The problem is that if you sound intelligent and act like you know what meds work for you and what quanity and strength you need to achieve sufficient pain relief then that's considered "drug seeking behavior" by most doctors. I've learned that you have to stand up for yourself and believe in yourself because if you don't no one else will. I think being open to different modalitys such as accupuncture, medical marijuana, or chiropractic adjustment and massage can really make a big difference in improving quality of life for many chronic pain sufferers. I'm sorry you had to go through all those surgeries. I hope that my sharing with you just some of the bullpoop I've had to go through and overcome has been helpful to you. I've also learned that being thankful to God for all I do still have is a better perspective to have than complaining about what I've lost. Peace
    williamheng replied to grampaphil's response:
    hi, i'm actually having the same problem as tanya... but the bad things for me that is im having headache after the surgery ... and i been sent to scan MRI on my brain, it tells that there is blood on my brain due from the leaking ... and its now after 2 weeks from the surgery already ... but the headache is still there.. i wondering anyone had experience the same problem as me ? Is there any side effect on this??
    loladan responded:
    My husband was a war vet complained for long time about back pain, never nothing done, was told he had arthitis and rheumetisim, was given med to go home. He started walking like a puppet, finally was givin a MRI, said he has small tumor in lower lumbar would do surgery and that would take care of it. Surgery was done, didn't take care of it, said had to have radiation and see at the end of 30 treatments. After the 30 treatments said he had cancer and would put hime on palliative care which means hospic my husband was 55 at time this all occurred in 2011 of April. But before the announcement of hospice care. he had back leak,was told to ge to ER at emory, by the was this was an emory surgeon, opened back, stapled back again, sent us home, back still leaked through seams of insicion. Was told to go back to ER, ER said go back to Dr Olsen (emory neurosurgon) was then put in hospital again for about 10 more days, was then sent home with back left open and lots of people coming to my house to monitor and clean back out everyday says was infected.

    Had another appointment with urologist at emory dont remember his name but will find out soon, I was told that the sheth was punctured and some spinal fluid got out and the
    fluid took the tumor up back and brain. My husband is now dead at the age of 55 with leaving me a son of 15 years old to raise. What ?
    brmaurer replied to kiddykop1's response:
    I had l5/s1 discetomy 2 days after ended up with spinal headaches. after 2 er visits/ 3 dr visits that which they all said that i did not have a leak/ also had 2 mris/ 1 cat scan and a myelogram and still said no leak ( 2 radiology reports stated i had a leak). i went to a different dr and in 5 minutes he said i had csf leak. for any one that goes to there dr or hospital and they all tell you that you do not have a leak or it is something else I STONGLY go to a different dr. because i had the leak and it was the 1st dr fault and since it was a small puncture at the begining and every time i got up to go to the bathroom cause i was in so much pain from the headaches i did not do anything. i tore the punture and ended up having another surgery to fix it. i am getting a lawyer cause this was over 6 weeks and no one should have to go through anything like that. (i was like you i would sit up and had a baseball size bump on my lower back and it was all of the spinal fluid._

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