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Spontaneous Csf Leaks Mimicking Benign Exertional Headaches

B Mokri

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Spontaneous CSF leaks are increasingly recognized, and a broader clinical and imaging spectrum of the disorder is emerging. The headaches of CSF leaks are typically orthostatic, but sometimes especially with chronicity the orthostatic features are blurred into lingering chronic daily headaches. Additional types of headache are also increasingly recognized. Two patients with spontaneous CSF leaks presented with intermittent transient severe headaches provoked by Valsalva-type manoeuvres. Orthostatic features were absent and the patients were asymptomatic if they avoided the provoking manoeuvres. One patient had been treated for 6 years for benign exertional headaches and had failed many medical treatments, including courses of indomethacin. He was found to have a leak from cribriform plate. The second patient had been symptomatic for several months, had diffuse pachymeningeal gadolinium enhancement on head magnetic resonance imaging, spinal meningeal diverticula, and CSF leak at the thoracic spine level. Headaches that mimic benign exertional headaches are yet another mode of the still broadening clinical presentation of spontaneous CSF leaks.