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Neurosurgery. 2007 Nov;61(5 Suppl 2):E331-2; discussion E332. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000303990.03235.81.

Minimally invasive insertion of syringosubarachnoid shunt for posttraumatic syringomyelia: technical case report.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



Symptomatic posttraumatic syringomyelia affects up to 10% of patients with spinal cord injuries and manifests in a delayed manner as progressive sensorimotor changes below the level of the syrinx. Syrinx shunting, and in particular syringosubarachnoid shunting (SSAS), provides neurological improvement or stabilization in at least 50% of these patients. Given the debilitated condition of many of these patients, a minimally invasive approach to the insertion of these devices is desirable. We provide the first report of an SSAS inserted in a minimally invasive fashion through a tubular retractor.


A 27-year-old woman presented 4 years after C6 to C7 fracture dislocation and incomplete spinal cord injury with increasing pain and spasticity below the midthoracic region. Magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed a midthoracic syrinx that had enlarged on serial imaging. SSAS was inserted using a minimally invasive technique via the X-Tube retractor (Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Memphis, TN). Through a 2.5-cm incision, hemilaminotomy was performed, and a midline durotomy and myelotomy were opened for SSAS insertion under microscopic visualization.


Intraoperative ultrasonography revealed successful syrinx decompression after SSAS insertion. The operative time was 150 minutes and estimated blood loss was less than 100 mL. The patient was mobilized on postoperative Day 1 and was discharged 38.5 hours after surgery with resolution of her preoperative symptoms. Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed excellent decompression of the syrinx, and through 1 year of follow-up, the patient has had no recurrence of her syrinx-related symptoms.


This is the first report of minimal-access insertion of an SSAS. The minimally invasive technique appears to be a safe and effective means of implanting an SSAS. This approach allows for diminished blood loss and early mobilization and transfer to rehabilitation units for these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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