Post-Traumatic Syringomyelia and Syrinx
Syringomyelia is a disorder of the spinal cord that occurs when Syrinx, cysts within the spinal cord or brainstem, form as a result of trauma, meningitis, hemorrhage, a tumor, or arachnoiditis. Syringomyelia can be diagnosed in the beginning stages using an MRI.
Syrinxes (the dark area in the center of the spinal cord, which is a lighter grey, shown at right) form when the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid is obstructed by either a bony narrowing of the spinal canal or the presence of scar tissue at the injury site. Coughing, sneezing, bearing down, or lifting a heavy weight may contribute to syrinx development because these activities increase pressure in the veins, forcing fluid into the cyst. Spinal fluid is thought to flow through channels that act as one-way valves: fluid flows in but little flows out. Pressure builds in the syrinx until it enlarges and ruptures, damaging normal spinal cord tissue and injuring nerve cells.
Syrinxes are diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but patients can often detect the presence of a syrinx by testing themselves for loss of pin-prick and temperature sensation, which are early signs of syringomyelia. Quantitative strength tests and nerve conduction tests are useful for monitoring syrinx status and assessing the effectiveness of treatments. Nerve conduction tests can also help detect other causes of neurologic decline that may mask or occur simultaneously with a syrinx, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, other peripheral nerve entrapment, or spinal cord impingement.
Have you been to a doctor complaining of symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, imbalance, vomiting, impaired vision and/or change in temperature sensation that persist regardless of treatments prescribed by a doctor, only to find out that you were misdiagnosed or simply dismissed and more serious, life-threatening symptoms have now developed?
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