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Cerebrospinal fluid production and circulation

Learning objectives

This study unit will help you to:

  1. Learn what cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is and what its functions are. 
  2. Understand how and where CSF is produced.
  3. Appreciate the location and path of CSF in the central nervous system.

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Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear, plasma-like fluid, that circulates within the system of cavities found within the central nervous system (CNS). The majority of CSF is produced and secreted by specialized tissue known as the choroid plexus

The subarachnoid cisterns are compartments within the subarachnoid space where the pia and arachnoid mater are not in close approximation; this is due to the 'draping' of the arachnoid mater across various sulci, fissures and indentations of the brain, unlike the pia mater which invests all contours of the brain. As these cisterns are interconnected, their patency is essential for CSF circulation.

Approximately 400-600ml of CSF is produced per day, however, the total volume of CSF contained within the ventricular system, central canal of the spinal cord, subarachnoid and perivascular spaces is maintained at around 150-270ml due to the fact that CSF is drained at a similar rate to which it is produced. CSF is largely absorbed into the venous system of the brain via the arachnoid granulations, which are protrusions of arachnoid mater into the dural venous sinuses. 

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the choroid plexus and cerebrospinal fluid and the components of its production and its drainage.

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Summary

Key facts about the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Definition: Clear, plasma-like fluid, that circulates within the system of cavities found throughout the CNS
Produced by
: Choroid plexus
Drained by
: Arachnoid granulations
Amount in circulation
: Approx 150 milliliters
Choroid plexus Location: Floor of lateral ventricles/roofs of third and fourth ventricles
Functions
: Production and secretion of CSF, forming a blood-CSF barrier, secretion of various growth factors, facilitate the brain development, protection from harmful toxins and microbes
Subarachnoid cisterns Infratentorial cisterns:
Basal/ventral cisterns (premedullary, prepontine, interpeduncular cisterns)
Lateral cisterns (lateral cerebellomedullary, cerebellopontine, cisterna ambiens)
Dorsal cisterns (posterior cerebellomedullary (cisterna magna), superior cerebellar cisterns)
Supratentorial cisterns:

Basal cisterns (hypophysial cistern, chiasmatic cistern, cistern of lamina terminalis)
Lateral cisterns (olfactory cistern, cisterns of lateral cerebral fossa, central sulcus)
Dorsal cisterns (quadrigeminal cistern, pericallosal cistern, cistern of transverse fissure)
Arachnoid granulations Definition: Protrusions of arachnoid mater that pierce dura mater and protrude into lumina of dural venous sinuses
Function
: Drainage of cerebrospinal fluid

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