George Clooney is considered the last American movie star by Time Magazine and has even been voted as “The Sexiest Man in America” twice. He is best known from his roles in ER, Batman, O Brother Where Art Thou, Ocean’s 11 and its sequels and of course, Syriana. Clooney is a household movie producer, director and actor. Nearly 10 years ago, Clooney suffered a severe back injury while filming.
Syriana is a 2004 political drama, which won Clooney an Academy Award. To fit the role of a government agent, Clooney gained over 30 pounds. During this movie’s filming, Clooney injured his spine by damaging the spinal membrane with a dural tear. A dural tear is a tear in the dura mater or 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. Leaking CSF causes a myriad of symptoms and is ultimately detrimental to one’s health.
Clooney experienced the classic symptom of a dural tear, which is suffering from headaches when rising from a flat position to an upright position. Symptoms sometimes also include nausea and vomiting. Dural tears usually occur from severe spinal trauma from an unexpected incident such as a fall or car accident. Clooney’s recovery took a number of years and required two surgeries to correct it. The now 60-year-old Clooney has since fully recovered.
Dural tears are typically treated with surgery; however, it depends on the length and severity of the tear. Other possible treatments are bed rest, a blood patching procedure, sealant or other surgical procedures. A neurosurgeon like Dr. Keuther and his team would need to examine a patient’s particular case to determine the best course of action.
Of course, as with any spinal surgery, there are number of risks as untreated dural tears can lead to cerebrospinal fluid leakage, meningitis, nerve problems, and more serious conditions. Fortunately, dural tears are relatively uncommon and are treatable as seen with Mr. Clooney’s experience.