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Asked Dec 24, 2019
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The human brain and spinal cord are immersed in the cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid is normally continuous between the cranial and spinal cavities and exerts a pressure of 100 to 200 mm of H2O above the prevailing atmospheric pressure. In medical work, pressures are often measured in units of mm of H2O because body fluids, including the cerebrospinal fluid, typically have nearly the same density as water. The pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid can be measured by means of a spinal tap. A hollow tube is inserted into the spinal column, and the height to which the fluid rises is observed, as shown in Figure P9.83. If the fluid rises to a height of 160. mm, we write its gauge pressure as 160. mm H2O. (a) Express this pressure in pascals, in atmospheres, and in millimeters of mercury. (b) Sometimes it is necessary to determine whether an accident victim has suffered a crushed vertebra that is blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal column. In other cases, a physician may suspect that a tumor or other growth is blocking the spinal column and inhibiting the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Such conditions can be investigated by means of the Queckensted test. In this procedure, the veins in the patient’s neck are compressed to make the blood pressure rise in the brain. The increase in pressure in the blood vessels is transmitted to the cerebrospinal fluid. What should be the normal effect on the height of the fluid in the spinal tap? (c) Suppose compressing the veins had no effect on the level of the fluid. What might account for this phenomenon?

Figure P9.83
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Figure P9.83

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