It is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
That is why when doctors suspect that a patient has an abnormality, condition or disease that affects the nervous system, they present as an alternative for an evaluation and accurate diagnosis a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid.
The fluid is made up of a group of cells, called the choroid plexus , found inside the brain.
The organism or body of every human being has approximately 150 milliliters of liquid, which is equivalent to two thirds of a cup.
As the colorless fluid surrounds the brain and spinal cord , it cushions those organs, picks up needed supplies from the blood, and removes waste products from brain cells.
Sometimes the cerebrospinal fluid can have things that shouldn’t be there, like bacteria or viruses that can attack any individual’s brain.
That is why to detect some diseases, what is in this liquid can help the specialist doctor to discover what is happening.
Diseases detected by cerebrospinal fluid
A sample of cerebrospinal fluid can rule out multiple conditions or diseases that can be acquired by anyone related to the brain or spinal cord.
Among these diseases the most common are the following:
Multiple sclerosis : This condition is progressive and focuses on the central nervous system, which causes damage to the myelin.
Part of the symptoms of this disease is tingling or numbness of the inner limbs, loss of sensation and in extreme cases paralysis of the legs and feet.
This occurs because the white matter that covers the axons of neurons is severely affected, which degenerates the entire nervous system.
Myelitis: it is known as an inflammation in the spinal cord resulting from a neurological disorder that damages or deteriorates myelin.
This condition can cause:
- Acute or chronic pain.
- Muscular weakness.
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction.
- Sensory problems
This disease is due to infections or disorders in the body’s immune system. Depending on how advanced it is, it can be treated with rehabilitation and medications.
Encephalitis: This condition is an inflammation of the brain caused by a viral infection. Its symptoms may be:
- Sensory and motor problems.
Treatment for this condition will depend on the disabilities it leaves in the body.
Meningitis: This condition is known as an inflammation in the thin tissues that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. This is usually caused by an infection in the cerebrospinal fluid.
Stroke: It is the interruption of the blood supply that causes bleeding around the brain.
This disease can cause:
- Trouble walking
- Difficulty speaking or modulating.
- Failures in understanding and comprehension.
- Paralysis or numbness of the face, arms and legs.
To contrast the damage caused by a stroke, the patient must undergo therapies and maintain rigorous treatment with medications that stimulate the affected area of the brain to reduce the damage.
Leukemia: this is a disease focused on the organs that make blood and is a type of cancer.
It can be treated or cured with a bone marrow transplant.
Dementia: it is the disorder or loss of mental faculties in a progressive way, affecting mainly:
It can be treated with some medications to reduce or delay the effects of the disease, but it is not curable.
How is the sample taken?
The medical specialist will use a procedure called a lumbar puncture . With this technique, a sample of cerebrospinal fluid will be taken with a long, thin needle.
The patient will have a local anesthetic to numb the skin in the area, and the needle will be placed between two vertebrae, the bones that surround the spinal cord and make up the spinal column.
It usually takes about 45 minutes to perform this procedure. The patient will rest for a while afterward, and you may be asked not to do anything strenuous for about a day.
You may have a headache afterward, but you will need to tell your doctor if it lasts for more than a few hours.
How is the sample used?
If the patient has high levels of a substance called immunoglobulin, which the body uses to fight disease or other things related to nerve cells, that could point to multiple sclerosis.
If the doctor believes that the patient has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, certain types of proteins related to the disease may be in the fluid.
Discolored fluid can be a sign of a cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) or a stroke.
Signs of a bacterial or viral infection could tell your doctor that you have a disease such as meningitis or encephalitis.