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Chin J Traumatol. 2007 Dec;10(6):366-70.

Surgery for posttraumatic syringomyelia: a retrospective study of seven patients.

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Department of Neurosurgery, First Affiliated Hospital, Medical College, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310009, China.



To analyze retrospectively the clinical symptoms, signs, radiological findings and results of treatment of posttraumatic syringomyelia.


The data of 7 patients with posttraumatic syringomyelia confirmed by computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in our hospital between 1999 and 2004 were reviewed retrospectively. The patients underwent decompressive laminectomy or syringo-subarachnoid (S-S) shunting with microsurgery. Long-term follow-up was available (range: 13-65 months).


The major clinical manifestations of posttraumatic syringomyelia usually included the onset of increasing signs and the development of new symptoms after an apparently stable period. The clinical symptoms included pain, sensory disturbance, weakness, and problems in autonomic nerves. Syrinx existed merely at the cervical level in 4 cases and extended downward to the thoracic levels in the other 3 cases. One case underwent decompressive laminectomy, 6 cases were treated by S-S shunting. During the early postoperative period, all the patients showed an improvement of symptoms of syrinx without major complication or death. The decreased size or collapse of the syrinx was demonstrated by postoperative MRI.


Posttraumatic syringomyelia is a disabling sequela of spinal cord injury, developing months to years after spinal injury. MRI is the standard diagnostic technique for syringomyelia. The patients with posttraumatic syringomyelia combined with progressive neurological deterioration should be treated with operations. S-S shunting procedure is effective in some patients with posttraumatic syringomyelia. Decompressive procedure may be an alternative primary surgical treatment for patients with kyphosis and cord compression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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