About the Pediatric Neurosurgery Fund
Conditions & Diagnoses
> About The Brain
> Achondroplasia
> Aneurysm
> Arachnoid Cyst
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> Chiari Malformation
> Cortical Vision Impairment
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> Epilepsy
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> Hydrocephalus
> Medulloblastomas
> Moyamoya Disease
> Spasticity
> Spina Bifida
> Syringomyelia (Syrinx)
> Tethered Spinal Cord
> Trauma
Syringomyelia (Syrinx)

Syringomyelia and hydromyelia are commonly known as a syrinx. Essentially, a syrinx is a fluid collection within the spinal cord.

What causes Syrinx?

The exact cause of a syringomyelia are unknown but trauma, hydrocephalus, Chiari malformations, tethered spinal cords, and tumors are thought to play a contributory role.

What are the symptoms of Syrinx?

Most children with a syringomyelia are asymptomatic and are diagnosed incidentally during another neuroimaging procedure. Symptoms of a syringomyelia are due to the direct pressure on the spinal cord from the fluid collection. Therefore, the symptoms will be related to the level in the spinal column where the syringomyelia is located. Commonly symptoms include weakness, numbness, pain, incontinence, and scoliosis.

How is Syrinx diagnosed?

The availability of MRI has greatly improved the ability to both diagnose and follow these collections. Once a fluid collection is identified, it is usually prudent to study the entire nervous system to look for associated abnormalities, which may influence treatment. If the syringomyelia is significant, neurosurgical intervention may be needed to alleviate the symptoms.

Example of Cervical Syrinx on MRI.

Treatment of Syrinx

The drains used to treat syrinxes are quite variable. Some surgeons prefer to place a small tube or “stent” in the syrinx. This is a short length of hollow tubing that extends from inside the spinal cord collection to just outside the spinal cord where the spinal fluid space is. Others prefer to use a shunt-type system similar to that used in Hydrocephalus to divert the fluid to other body cavities such as the chest or abdomen.

There is no one superior treatment and the neurosurgeon will determine which method, using a stent or a shunt, will be indicated depending on the child’s specific condition. The surgeries are typically well tolerated and in many cases, full recovery is achieved. Follow up MRIs will likely be performed after the surgery.