Nontraumatic cervicothoracic syrinx as a cause of progressive neurologic dysfunction

Paul Porensky*, Kenji Muro, Aruna Ganju

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: Syringomyelia is characterized by a fluid-filled cavity within the spinal cord. While its pathogenesis is currently debated, the relationship of syringomyelia with other conditions, such as Chiari I malformation and cord/column trauma, is well accepted. Despite these common associations, a nidus for syrinx formation has not been identified in a subset of patients. We report 2 patients with idiopathic cervicothoracic syringomyelia who presented with progressive neurologic dysfunction. Diagnostic and treatment algorithms used in the care of these patients are presented. Methods: Retrospective review, including preoperative and postoperative studies, intraoperative findings, and the patients' surgical outcomes. Results: Patients underwent laminectomy, lysis of adhesions, untethering of spinal cord, fenestration of syrinx, and duraplasty after preoperative studies demonstrated evidence of focal cerebrospinal fluid flow block at the level of the syrinx. One patient's neurologic condition improved after surgery, whereas the other's remained unchanged without further deterioration; both showed radiographic decrease in the syrinx on immediate postoperative magnetic resonance imaging. Conclusions: These 2 cases illustrate patients who develop a cervicothoracic syrinx in the absence of any trauma, infection, previous manipulation of the neuraxis, or malformations known to be associated with a syringomyelia. Whereas there is no consensus on the optimal management of these patients, the patients reported here experienced arrest in deterioration or improvement of their neurologic examination, making the identification of this condition important as a potentially reversible cause of neurologic deficits. Long-term follow-up is required to determine the efficacy, durability, and lifestyle impact of the procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


  • Arachnoiditis
  • Central subarachnoid stenosis
  • Idiopathic
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Syringomyelia
  • Syrinx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Nontraumatic cervicothoracic syrinx as a cause of progressive neurologic dysfunction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this