Cisternograms are used to diagnosis CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) leakage. A CSF leak can occur after trauma and it is often difficult to tell exactly where the location of the leakage is. In order to determine the position of the leak a contrast material is injected into the subarachnoid space via a lumbar approach. The patient is then tilted with the head down and a CT scan is performed to see where the CSF and the contrast is leaking out. A cisternogram can also be performed with a nuclear medicine technique. This is slightly more sensitive, but the anatomic resolution is lower than the CT cisternogram.
Often the two examinations are combined so that both the CT and nuclear contrast materials are injected at the same time. This offers the best anatomic resolution with the highest sensitivity.
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