What does the finding of spinal cord syrinx by MRI mean for patients?


Quick Answer

Detection of a spinal cord syrinx by MRI is a confirmatory diagnosis for syringomyelia, which means additional MRI sessions for the patient or surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Syringomyelia is a disease where a cyst or syrinx forms within the spinal cord, leading to spinal cord injury, explains the U.S. National Institute of Health.

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Full Answer

If syringomyelia isn’t causing any symptoms, the doctor recommends further MRI sessions to monitor the progress of the condition, states Mayo Clinic. However, if syringomyelia is symptomatic, the doctor recommends surgery for the patient. The goal of the surgical procedure is to allow cerebrospinal fluid to flow normally. The type of surgery depends on the cause of the syringomyelia.

Surgery involves treating Chiari formation, draining the syrinx, removing the existing obstruction or correcting a spinal abnormality, Mayo Clinic explains. Treating Chiari formation involves surgery to enlarge the opening at the base of the skull. To drain the syrinx, the surgeon inserts a surgical drainage system called a shunt from the syrinx to the patient’s abdomen.

If syringomyelia is a result of an existing obstruction or spinal abnormality, surgery aims to correct the anomaly, states Mayo Clinic. Removing the obstruction or correcting the abnormality restores the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

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