Researchers at Cedar Sinai Medical Center have found that some patients diagnosed with dementia may experience cerebrospinal fluid leakage, which is usually treatable. Study published Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions.
Cerebrospinal fluid circulates in and around the brain and spinal cord, helping to protect them from damage. The leaking fluid can cause the brain to droop, causing the symptoms of dementia. This can be detected with an MRI.
In this study, researchers performed MRI scans on 21 patients with symptoms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and found that nine of them leaked cerebrospinal fluid. They had surgery, after which the symptoms of dementia completely disappeared.
The scientists noted that it is necessary to check for cerebrospinal fluid leaks if the patient has a history of severe headaches that resolve when lying down, or if there is a history of significant lethargy even after an adequate night’s sleep. The authors added that brain prolapse due to CSF leak is often confused with an Arnold-Chiari malformation.
Even if a cerebral prolapse is detected, it may be difficult to identify the source of the cerebrospinal fluid leak, especially if the fluid is directly entering a vein: in such cases, a contrast-enhanced CT myelogram is necessary.
Patients with FTD of unknown cause suffer from cognitive impairment, are unable to care for themselves and often have to live in nursing homes. Research has shown that in many cases this disease is treatable.