Movement disorders associated with spontaneous CSF leaks: a case series

Cephalalgia. 2014 Dec;34(14):1134-41. doi: 10.1177/0333102414531154. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Importance and objective: Headache is the most common symptom in spontaneous CSF leaks, frequently associated with additional manifestations. Herein, attention is drawn to movement disorder as a notable manifestation of spontaneous CSF leaks.

Design: Four women and one man (ages 51-78 years) with spontaneous CSF leaks and movement disorders were evaluated clinically and by pertinent neuroimaging studies with follow-up of one to seven years (mean 3.2 years).

Results: The movement disorder consisted of choreiform movements in two patients, torticollis in one, mixed tremor in one, and parkinsonism in one. All except the last patient had headaches (orthostatic in one, Valsalva maneuver-induced in one, both orthostatic and Valsalva-induced in two, lingering low-grade headache in one). Diffuse pachymeningeal enhancement and sinking of the brain was noted in all. CT-myelography showed definite CSF leak in three and equivocal leak in one, while no leak could be located in the fifth patient. Two patients improved over time with complete resolution of the movement disorder. One responded to epidural blood patch with complete resolution of his choreiform movements. Two patients required surgery and epidural blood patches. Results were drastic but nondurable in one, while complete recovery was achieved in the other.

Conclusion: Movement disorders are uncommon in spontaneous CSF leaks but occasionally can be one of the major components of the clinical presentation.

Keywords: CSF leak; chorea; intracranial hypotension; parkinsonism; torticollis; tremor.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak / complications*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Movement Disorders / pathology*