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Neurosurgery. 1995 Oct;37(4):673-8; discussion 678-9.

Surgical indication and results of foramen magnum decompression versus syringosubarachnoid shunting for syringomyelia associated with Chiari I malformation.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Hokkaido School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


Several surgical procedures have been used for the treatment of syringomyelia associated with Chiari I malformation at our institute. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the results of two major surgical procedures, foramen magnum decompression (FMD) and syringosubarachnoid (SS) shunting. The series consisted of 70 patients with syringomyelia associated with Chiari I malformation who were surgically treated. Their ages ranged from 3 to 59 years (median, 29.4 yr). FMD was performed on 33 patients, and SS shunting was performed on 37 patients. The follow-up period ranged from 6 months to 12.5 years, with a mean of 60 months. The clinical and radiological outcomes were analyzed comparing the two groups. We principally performed FMD in patients with symptoms of Chiari I malformation and/or a small syrinx. We prefer to use SS shunting in patients with large syringes. Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated that the syrinx had collapsed or decreased in size in 94% of the patients who underwent FMD and in 100% of the patients who underwent SS shunting. Neurological improvements were observed in 82% and in 97% of the patients who underwent FMD and SS shunting, respectively. In particular, the relief of pain was more fully achieved after SS shunting than after FMD. The average time for the syrinx to collapse was 6.3 weeks after surgery in the FMD group and 1.8 weeks in the SS shunting group. These results indicate that clinical symptoms and radiological findings improved much more quickly in the SS shunting group than in the FMD group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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