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Spinal fluid leaks: A possible birth injury for mothers

A spinal fluid leak is pretty much just as awful as it sounds.

When the spinal fluid surrounding the brain to get too low, it causes a range of symptoms from excruciating head pain and double vision to numbness in the victim’s hands and feet. Some victims constantly feel like they’re going to vomit. Some victims are literally stuck in bed, because laying down is the only way to relieve the pressure on their spine and brain and keep more fluid from leaking out.

The worst part of the condition is that it can strike right when the victims have just given birth — making them just about as helpless as their own newborns.

While there are other causes of spinal leaks, they can easily happen just after a spinal epidural is given to a woman about to deliver a child by cesarean section. For whatever reason, the tiny hole that’s created to insert the catheter used to deliver the numbing medication fails to heal — allowing tiny amounts of spinal fluid to leak out long after the surgery is over.

While the body constantly remakes the fluid, the leak overwhelms the body’s ability to heal itself. Sometimes it’s possible to put a small “patch” in place that will heal the condition, using a small amount of the woman’s own blood to create a clot above the hole where the epidural was placed — sealing the wound.

Sometimes the patching process doesn’t work. When that happens, the mother can end up like one Illinois woman who has been suffering from the condition for two years. A mother of three, she finds caring for her own children exceptionally hard now that she has developed chronic head pain, trouble walking, weakness and even trouble focusing on tasks at hand. Her fatigue is overwhelming.

The spinal leak was originally misdiagnosed as migraines. When the problem was finally discovered, she was given two blood patches and eventually had two surgeries to try to correct the problem. So far, nothing has been successful.

Now, she’s speaking out about the condition because she feels that it is an underestimated area of concern for many, particularly because many neurologists don’t even realize the condition can become chronic — which can lead to misdiagnosis and frustration.

An attorney can help you pursue a medical malpractice case if you suffer from a spinal leak after childbirth and have developed chronic problems.

Source: Northwest Herald, “Family talks freely of spinal fluid leak disorder,” Marie Wilson, Sep. 18, 2017