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Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2017 Apr;38(2):98-104. doi: 10.1053/j.sult.2016.07.008. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Cord Cystic Cavities: Syringomyelia and Prominent Central Canal.

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Cincinnati Children׳s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. Electronic address:


Syringomyelia is the term given to cystic cavities in the spinal cord, most of which are associated with congenital malformations of the craniocervical junction and represent dilation of the central canal of the cord. As such, syrinxes can be considered analogous to hydrocephalus. The exact etiology of syrinx formation remains a subject of debate, but there is ample evidence that they are the result of obstruction of the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid between the intracranial and spinal compartments. The chances that a syrinx will progress over time are much greater when they are associated with a causative lesion (Chiari malformation, tumor, infection, and trauma), but asymptomatic central canal dilation may be a stable incidental finding. Although spinal cord neoplasms are a recognized etiology for syrinx formation, especially in adults, it is not always necessary to administer contrast when evaluating a syrinx for the first time with magnetic resonance imaging.

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