Presentation and management of hydromyelia in children with Chiari type- II malformation

Frank La Marca, Martin Herman, John A. Grant, David G. McLone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Hydromyelia in patients with myelomeningocele and Chiari-II malformation is a relatively frequent finding on MRI studies. However, not all children develop symptoms from the hydromyelia that requires treatment. Furthermore, treatment of hydromyelia in spina bifida patients is rather complex due to the associated malformations. The authors retrospectively analyzed 231 MRI studies carried out on spina bifida patients who presented neurological deterioration. Hydromyelia was found in 48.5% of the patients. Forty-five children with severe hydromyelia required treatment. These patients were first divided into 2 groups: those with holocord hydromyelia, and those with a segmental lesion. Fifteen patients presented symptoms characteristic of symptomatic Chiari-II malformation: neck rigidity; swallowing difficulty; pain in the upper extremeties; weakness or spasticity in the upper extremeties. Eighteen patients presented symptoms typical of the tethered cord syndrome: scoliosis; worsening bladder and/or bowel function; pain in the lower extremeties; weakness or spasticity in the lower extremeties. Twelve patients presented a mixed-type symptomatology. These patients subsequently underwent posterior cervical decompression, tethered cord release or insertion of a hydromyeliapleural shunt according to the type of presenting symptoms and to the extent of the hydromyelic lesion. A pattern of successful treatment was identified for each type of presenting clinical and radiological picture. This has allowed the authors to determine an algorithm for optimal treatment of hydromyelia associated with Chiari-II malformation and myelomeningocele, which is proposed here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Chiari malformation
  • Hydromyelia
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Spina bifida
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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