Most patients with syrinx of the spinal cord require surgery, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Sometimes a syrinx, which is a type of cyst, can be drained through a shunt. If a patient reports no symptoms, doctors may choose not to treat the syrinx at all.
Treatment options vary depending on the underlying condition that caused the syrinx to form, explains the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The most common condition that creates a syrinx is Chiari malformation, a condition in which the part of the brain called the cerebellum protrudes into the neck portion of the spinal cord. This protrusion interrupts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a protective substance that carries nutrients and waste products, resulting in syrinx growth.
In Chiari malformation patients, surgeons attempt to make more space to improve cerebrospinal fluid flow without operating on the brain or spinal cord, states the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This procedure often shrinks the syrinx, leading to less severe symptoms. In some patients, doctors may choose to drain the syrinx by using a shunt that empties into the abdomen. Draining the cyst can alleviate pain and headaches but result in complications, including spinal cord injury, internal bleeding, infection and blockage.