The Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is a watery liquid consistently generated and assimilated. Present in the ventricles, spinal cord, and around the surface of the brain, it is soaked up in the venous system, and is created in the choroid plexus – a framework of enfolded arteries in the lateral, third, and fourth ventricles.

CSF streams from the lateral ventricle to the third with the help of the inter-ventricular foramen, also known as the Foramen of Monro. The cerebral aqueduct, or the Aqueduct of Sylvius, holds the third and fourth ventricles together, while the Magendie and Luschka foramens are where they pass through to get to the subarachnoid space.

Its absorption into the bloodstream happens in the superior sagittal sinus through structures known as the arachnoid villi.  These are one-way valves that permit the cerebrospinal fluid into the bloodstream as needed, or once its pressure is higher than the venous pressure, but do not allow blood to enter. In case production surpasses release, CSF stress increases, resulting to conditions such as hydrocephalus to happen. The acquired fluid in the course of a lumbar puncture would help lower the pressure, but this is a risky procedure and must only be undertaken with medical supervision.

Cerebrospinal Fluid in the Brain

Maybe you have heard athletes talk about concussion, or maybe you’ve seen it in the news. But for those of you who do not know, it is basically trauma to the brain taken from a physical impact.

What most people do not know, however, is that our brain uses a framework wherein holes present in our skull help reduce the severity of a concussion. You read that right: we have holes in our skull that actually shield us from severe trauma. Learn more about this and the cerebrospinal fluid’s role in the ventricles, choroid plexus, and the blood-CSF barrier, among many others, as we move on in this chapter.

The Ventricles

If we were to cut the brain in half, you would see the huge indentations inside it – these cavities are known as the ventricles of the human brain. It also has the same name as the sections in our hearts, but for the sake of this book, it should not be confused with them.

There are four ventricles present in the brain. The first and second ventricles are generally known as the right and left ventricles, as they are located on each side of the brain, while the third and fourth ventricles, however, are not coupled, and are situated along the midline of the brain, right smack in the middle of the two.

The Choroid Plexus and CSF

The ventricles are a somewhat boring topic by itself, as they are simply just the gaps in your brain. What is more interesting and vital lies within these holes or cavities.

If we were to take a look inside the brain without pulling it out of our skulls, these holes are stuffed with fluid made from a framework known as the choroid plexus. Again, this structure is situated in the ventricles, and is also responsible for generating and producing the cerebrospinal fluid.

The CSF performs many essential roles in safeguarding the mind. It covers the brain and spinal cord in a defensive material that supports them during any physical injury to the head. Though as protective as it may be, it is not strong enough to prevent all traumas, especially those severe in nature.

Consider it like a pillow filled with water. You put one on top of a wall then decided to punch it. As a result, it will contort and reform itself to deal with the impact. Since the water pillow can endure the mild hit your fist made, you would not be able to harm the wall behind it. However, strike the pillow hard enough, and your fist will go through to the other side and will be able to hit the wall. The same concept applies to the brain, the skull, and the cerebrospinal fluid. In case an excessive force impacts your head, your brain will greatly hit your skull, which may then lead to a concussion.

Besides serving as a cushion and a physical barrier to the brain, the CSF also acts as a chemical buffer. It helps dilute toxic substances that may enter the body and the central nervous system to give other systems more time to counteract them.

CSF Analysis

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis is a method of searching for environmental elements that can influence both the brain and the spine. This series of medical tests performed on a sample of the fluid, is far better in analyzing and recognizing signs of illnesses or diseases concerning the central nervous system, than that of any blood tests.

However, it is harder to acquire spinal fluid compared to a blood sample. Getting into the spinal canal with a needle takes practice and should only be done by specialists with expertise in spinal anatomy. Knowledge about any existing brain or spinal conditions should always be noted before attempting such a procedure.

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