CSF Leak Program

The interdisciplinary CSF Leak Program at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York was established to provide a full spectrum of care for patients experiencing leaks of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). A CSF leak can cause intracranial hypotension (low pressure in the brain), leading to headache, backache, and other neurological symptoms. Because these symptoms are not specific to a CSF leak, patients are often misdiagnosed, sometimes for many years. Our collaborative approach provides patients with advanced diagnostics to identify and locate the leak, along with multiple expert treatment options to relieve symptoms and close the leak.

Cerebrospinal fluid cushions and protects the brain and spinal cord, and a CSF leak can occur through a tear anywhere in the dura — the membrane covering the brain and spine.  CSF leaks are sometimes caused by impact or injury, or they can be a complication of surgery. In some cases, there is no evident explanation for the tear in the dura. Whatever the cause, a comprehensive CSF leak program provides the best care for a patient with a known or suspected CSF leak.

Expert care for a CSF leak requires specialized diagnostics to not only confirm a leak but also to pinpoint its exact location. Although non-targeted treatment is possible without knowing the site of the leak, targeted treatment is more effective.  A large academic medical center, with specialists and state-of-the-art equipment, is the best choice for patients with CSF leaks.

At NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, our diagnostic options include the latest in imaging technology, including a full range of myelogram and cisternogram examinations utilizing all imaging modalities including CT, MRI, and fluoroscopy to identify the source and location of a CSF leak.  Treatment options include nontargeted and targeted epidural blood and fibrin patches, endovascular embolization, and  surgical solutions when indicated. Our expert CSF leak faculty members include neuroradiologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons, to ensure the best care for each individual patient.

Our program is co-directed by neuroradiologist Gayle Salama, MD, and neurosurgeon John Park, MD, PhD. They collaborate closely with colleagues in neurology and interventional neuroradiology to deliver comprehensive care to their patients. More about CSF Leaks


Dr. Park recently hosted an episode of This Is Your Brain about CSF leaks. Watch the video below:


Maddie Kachurak

 You WILL Have Your Life Back!

Maddie was just 25 and always on the go until a mysterious ailment slowed her down. Thanks to the expert diagnostic and treatment options available through our CSF Leak Program, she is back to living her life. Read Maddie's story

Dr Stieg, Dr. Park, Dr. Salama, and Dr. Min

Gayle Salama, MD, and John Park, MD, PhD, have been named co-directors of the new CSF Leak Program at...

Our Care Team

  • Director, Spine Imaging and Interventions
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: 646-962-5757
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery (Manhattan and Queens)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan) or 718-303-3739 (Queens)
  • Associate Attending Neurologist, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Associate Professor of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College
Phone: (212) 746-7038

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787