It was not nasal secretion, but brain water
International media are currently reporting on a bizarre case. 52-year-old Kendra Jackson from Nebraska thought that she had a bad cold. After a serious car accident, the American continued to experience coughing, sneezing, runny nose and migraine headaches. Among other things, she always went to the doctor because of her constantly runny nose. Numerous medications could not help her either. Her nose just kept running. The doctors thought it was an allergy until recently doctors from "Nebraska Medicine" discovered the real reason: Brain fluid was running out of her nose through a hole in the top of her skull.
In a previous car accident, Jackson hit his face against the dashboard and sustained an undetected head injury. For years Jackson and her doctors interpreted the constantly runny nose as an allergy. "When it started, I just thought it was an allergy or the onset of a fresh cold," Jackson told CNN. After numerous unsuccessful visits to the doctor, Jackson turned to the Nebraska Medicine hospital. There, a small hole in her sinus was discovered during a CT scan, through which brain water escaped and ran into the nose.
She lost half a liter every day
"It was a lot of fluid," reports Dr. Christie Barnes, rhinologist at Nebraska Medicine and senior surgeon on the case. According to Jackson's statements, about half a liter of fluid a day flowed from her nose. The doctors sent a sample of the liquid to the laboratory for evaluation. It was a so-called cerebrospinal fluid, a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and is responsible, among other things, for the removal of waste products and the distribution of nutrients. The liquid also absorbs hard impacts.
A tiny leak
Jackson's doctors believe that her car accident could have caused a small crack that widened over time. The liquid came out of a tiny hole in the sieve plate (Lamina cribrosa). This wafer-thin bone separates the paranasal sinus from the organs in the head. According to Barnes, this part of the skull is "thinner than a potato chip" and the most common place for this type of leak.
Leaks from which cerebrospinal fluid leaks are very rare and are referred to as "CSF leak". The CSF Leak Association reports that this injury occurs in approximately five out of 100,000 people worldwide. They often occur as a result of trauma or surgery. Depending on the amount of fluid loss, these leaks can be life threatening. Barnes reports an increased risk of infections such as meningitis.
An operation saved Jackson
To treat Jackson's condition, the doctors performed an operation in which they closed the hole in her skull with tissue from her nose and abdomen. "I used tissue from the inside of her nose to plug the leak," said Barnes. The expert also used some belly fat as a closing agent.
Jackson is already home
Almost a month after the operation, Jackson is back home and reports that the mysterious "runny nose" has disappeared. "I no longer have dripping noses, but I still have a headache." She wants others to know about her story so that such incidents can be resolved more quickly. In particular, people with a constantly runny nose, whose discharge tastes salty and also runs down their throats, advises the doctor to point out a CSF leak. (vb)