Syringomyelia

Also known as: SM, congenital syringomyelia with Chiari malformation, Morvan disease

What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is a rare chronic condition where fluid accumulates (syrinx) within the spinal cord. The most common cause of syringomyelia is Chiari malformation. Other conditions that may cause syringomyelia include spinal cord tumors, tethered spinal cord or shunt malfunction. 

What causes syringomyelia? 
The cause/s are unclear. Syringomyelia may be congenital or acquired.Rare cases are familial. Congenital syringomyelia almost always occurs along with a birth defect of the brain known as a Chiari malformation. With this malformation, part of the brain is lower than it should be, which disrupts the flow of spinal fluid and leads to the development of a syrinx. Acquired syringomyelia may occur result from an injury, infection, a tumor or other medical condition.

What are the symptoms of syringomyelia? 
Tingling, numbness, weakness, pain, a loss of sensitivity, a misshapen spinal cord and even paralysis are all potential complications of syringomyelia.

What are syringomyelia care options?
If there are no symptoms, monitoring the condition may be all that is needed. If symptoms occur surgery is typically required to stabilize or improve symptoms and several types of treatment are available.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/12/2018 10:25:57 AM


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