The November 2011, issue of Rolling Stone Magazine featured an interview with George Clooney during which he spoke about his battle with a debilitating injury. In 2005, Clooney was injured during a stunt scene while filming "Syriana". The media reported that during a rather physically challenging scene he suffered a spine injury. Little was known about the injury at the time, except that Clooney soon after began experiencing headaches.1 The actor's complaints were later found, by his physicians, to be attributed to a dural tear.2
A dural tear is a tear in the dura mater, the membrane covering the spinal cord. An injury to the dura allows cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to leak out of its intended space, the spinal canal, and into the surrounding tissue. One of the most prevalent symptoms of a CSF leak is a headache when rising from a flat position to an upright position. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting. 3, 4
Intracranial hypotension is the term used when describing the loss of spinal fluid with neurological manifestations; including headache. Intracranial hypotension is among the potential complications of spine surgery. However, it has also been found to occur seemingly, spontaneously, or following a physical trauma like that experienced by Clooney.4 Research on aspects of CSF leaks appears to be improving. The number of studies being conducted has increased over the years. However, we have a lot yet to learn.
The treatment of a dural tear can vary depending on the size of the tear and circumstances surrounding the tear discovery. If a tear is found during surgery then it is usually repaired at the time of surgery. Bed rest, a blood patching procedure, a sealant and other surgical solutions are among the known treatment options.3, 4
A spine injury can affect anyone at anytime if the right circumstances present themselves. Before participating in any activity or therapeutic intervention, know the risks. Be cognizant of your body. If you suspect that something is out of the ordinary, follow-up with your physician.
1. George Clooney Contemplated Suicide After 'Syriana' Set Injury. (2011, November 14). Retrieved November 14, 2011, from Huffington Post.
2. Walls, J. (2005, October 25). George Clooney considered killing himself. Retrieved November 14, 2011, from msnbc.com.
3. Holwerda, T. (2009, December). Complications of Spinal Surgery. Retrieved November 2011, from Spine Universe: http://spineuniverse.com/professional/research/complication-spinal-surgery
4. Inamasu, J., & Guiot, B. (2006). Intracranial hypotension with spinal pathology. The Spine Journal , 591-599.