A syrinx is a formation filled with fluid which is localized in the spinal cord or brain stem. If it affects spinal cord the condition is classified as syringomyelia and if the syrinx affects the brain stem the diseases is classified as syringobulbia. A syrinx most commonly affects people with certain predisposition, such as craniocervical junction abnormalities and it can also be a result of spinal cord trauma. Additionally, tumors can lead to a syrinx. The goal of the treatment is to drain the syrinx or open the affected cerebrospinal flow.Symptoms and Signs of Syrinx
Patients develop flaccid weakness of extremities and there is evident change in sensations. Namely, patients become less sensitive of painful and temperature sensations, pressure and vibration sensations. The first symptoms the patient can complain about are painless burns or cuts.
If left untreated the disease may eventually result in muscle atrophy, fasciculations and hyporeflexia of the extremities. In advanced stages patients develop spastic weakness of lower extremities. These neurological deficits can be both, symmetric or asymmetric.
The diagnosis of a syrinx is easily confirmed by MRI of the brain and spinal cord.
Surgery for Syrinx
The surgery is performed by well experienced surgeon who has already been engaged in operations of a syrinx. The treatment modality is the only way for the patient to get rid of all the symptoms and signs of the disease. The doctors will examine the patients and if the disease does not progress rapidly and the symptoms and signs are not so serious the surgery is postponed until the syrinx grows enough to cause serious problems. In some cases the disease progresses rapidly and the surgery has to be performed as soon as possible.
The surgeon will inform the patient about all the possible risks and complications related to the surgery of syrinx. The goal of this treatment modality is to drain the syrinx and to correct the primary condition which has led to formation of syrinx. For example, if a tumor is a cause of a syrinx the surgeon will remove the tumor and drain the syrinx and the symptoms will be eliminated.
The surgical procedure has to be performed timely since if postponed for a longer period of time the affected structures can be damaged irreversibly and the surgery will not be able to restore all the lost functions.
In certain number of cases a syrinx may reoccur. This requires reoperation.
In some patients successful drainage of the syrinx can be achieved by placement of catheters, drainage tubes and valves. This procedure is called the shunting. The most commonly performed is ventriculoperitoneal shunt which drains the excess of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain into the peritoneum.