What is cerebrospinal fluid?

Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This substance cushions the brain, transports nutrients and waste products as well as balances the chemical makeup of the central nervous system. It is located within the subarachnoid space, an area between two of the three membranes that encase the brain, spinal cord and cauda equina.

Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain and along blood vessels found in the subarachnoid space. Because the body produces much more cerebrospinal fluid than it needs each day, most of it is believed to be reabsorbed through sinuses within the brain. Another theory suggests it is reabsorbed through the lymphatic system.

Role of cerebrospinal fluid in diagnosing disorders

The level of protein and glucose present within the cerebrospinal fluid has proven to be a useful tool in diagnosing several disorders of the nervous system, including:

  • Meningitis
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain abscesses
  • Epilepsy
  • Encephalitis
  • Other viral diseases

Cerebrospinal fluid is also a component of arachnoid cysts, which are pockets of CFS that can form within the subarachnoid space. Occasionally, these cysts can compress nerve roots along the spinal cord, producing radiculopathic symptoms similar to those of degenerative spinal conditions such as herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis and others.

If you experience chronic neck or back pain, consult your physician for a diagnosis. A physical examination, review of medical history and an MRI or CT scan can reveal the origin and location of these symptoms. Most spine conditions can be treated conservatively using physical therapy, pain medications or exercise. If weeks or months of this type of treatment do not bring relief, your physician might present surgery as an option.

Laser Spine Institute

Traditional open back surgery is very invasive, requiring the severing of muscles and connective tissue to reach the spine and remove the source of painful nerve compression. Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to traditional open back procedures with minimally invasive spine surgery. Our team of highly skilled surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, resulting in an outpatient procedure and a shorter recovery time^ for patients.

Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures and to receive your no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for one.