Spinal Fluid: What is it & Why is it Important?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 22, 2014

spinal fluidSpinal fluid is an essential bodily fluid that protects the brain. In this article we will be delving into what exactly spinal fluid is and what it can be used for.

What is Spinal Fluid?

Spinal fluid (also known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF for short) is a bodily fluid in the spine and brain. The primary function of spinal fluid is to provide a cushion for the cortex in the brain. It also aids in the flow of blood to and from the brain. The brain is constantly producing and absorbing spinal fluid. On a daily basis nearly 500ml of fluid are produced, and about 100ml are present at a time.

There are 3 main functions that cerebrospinal fluid provides:

  1. Keeping the brain buoyant and suspended inside the skull. Without spinal fluid the brain would increase in weight, killing neurons and cutting blood supply in the process.
  2. Protecting the brain in the event of an injury. Spinal fluid will not protect against all blows to the head, but it is essential in mitigating the severity of head injuries.
  3. Maintaining chemical stability in the brain and throughout the bloodstream.

These are just the primary functions of spinal fluid. There are many more, some of which are still being studied and understood by medical professionals.

What is it Used For?

Cerebrospinal fluid is essential to our everyday health and well-being. Low levels of spinal fluid can be severely detrimental to your health and put you at increased risk of head injury. On the flip side, overproduction of spinal fluid can lead to hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”), which can be fatal if left untreated.

Spinal fluid can also be used for diagnostic purposes. Using a lumbar puncture, a physician can extract a sample of spinal fluid and test it to help diagnose a number of conditions such as meningitis, brain hemorrhages, and other conditions of the central nervous system.

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