Post–dural puncture headaches are common, and the treatment of such headaches can be complex when they become chronic. Among patients with spontaneous spinal CSF leaks, digital subtraction myelography (DSM) can localize the exact site of the leak when an extradural CSF collection is present, and it can also demonstrate CSF-venous fistulas in those without an extradural CSF collection. The authors now report on the use of DSM in the management of patients with chronic post–dural puncture headaches.
The patient population consisted of a consecutive group of 27 patients with recalcitrant post–dural puncture headache that had lasted from 2 to 150 months (mean 26 months).
The mean age of the 17 women and 10 men was 39.1 years (range 18–77 years). An extensive extradural CSF collection was present in 5 of the 27 patients, and DSM was able to localize the exact site of the dural defect in all 5 patients. Among the 22 patients who did not have an extradural CSF collection, DSM showed a CSF-venous fistula in 1 patient (5%). Three other patients had a small pseudomeningocele at the level of the dural puncture. Percutaneous glue injection or microsurgical repair resulted in resolution of symptoms in 8 of the 9 patients in whom an abnormality had been identified on imaging.
Digital subtraction myelography is able to precisely localize the dural puncture site in patients with a post–dural puncture headache and an extensive extradural CSF collection, and it may rarely detect a CSF-venous fistula in such patients without an extradural CSF collection.