What is a Syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia can be a debilitating condition in which a fluid-filled cyst forms inside your spinal cord. Doctors also call it syrinx. As syrinx grows over time, it compresses and damages the spinal cord from its center outward.

Syringomyelia can happen in any age group of people but is most common in adults aged between 20 to 40.

What are the causes of Syringomyelia

Syringomyelia happens if something blocks the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid which protects the brain and spinal cord. It can be present at birth due to congenital anomalies It passes in the central canal of the spinal cord and can cause a cyst to form. So, Chiari malformations can lead to Syringomyelia.

What are the signs, symptoms, and complications of syringomyelia?

Many people will have no symptoms and don’t even notice that they have it.  But depending on the location and size of the cyst doctors decide its severity. Over time it can grow longer and can be dangerous for nerves in the center of the spinal cord. This can give chronic pain which is harder to treat. Common symptoms are:

Loss of reflexes
Numbness, muscle weakness especially in the fingers, arms, and upper chest.
Heavy sweating
Loss of bowel and bladder functions
Twisting of spine
In severe cases, paralysis can also happen
How is the diagnosis of syringomyelia done?

The patient suspected of Syringomyelia will go through MRI scans of the brain and spine, where a doctor will examine the cyst and size it. Patients can also be suggested to go for a `MRI CSF flow `studies and CT scan myelogram.

What treatments for syringomyelia are available?

If Syringomyelia causes no interference with daily activities then no treatment is required at all. Milder pain can be treated with medications. Otherwise, if there are serious symptoms then surgery will be advised. By the surgery, the doctor will expand the base of the skull to take the pressure off from the spinal cord and brain and normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid will be restored. Surgery can be done for the associated primary problems which are causing Syringomyelia such as Chiari malformation, Spinal cord tumors, Tethered cord syndrome and Atlanto-Axial instability with or without Basilar invagination.

For the Syringomyelia without any associated conditions, a Syringo-Subarachnoid shunt surgery can also be suggested by your Neurosurgeon.

Dr Nitin Jagdhane is one of the best Neurosurgeon and Spine specialists for doing Cranio-Vertebral Junction (CVJ) spine surgery and Endoscopic Spine Surgery in Mumbai, India. Get in touch with Dr. Nitin Jagdhane, brain and spine specialist in Mumbai, for the best results for your Syringomyelia surgery.